The early years

Why are the first few years of your child's life so important?

Between birth and three years of age your child grows and develops faster than at any other stage in their lives. The way your child's brain develops in these early years is critical. In the first three years of your child's life, the brain has done a great deal of its growing and has established important pathways for future development.

Everything we do, say, think and feel is experienced and made sense of through our brain. Our brain allows us to love and to laugh, cry and then feel better, be confused and then understand.

The developing brain

At birth your baby has about 100 billion nerve cells, yet the brain is not fully developed. In the first few years of life these cells develop vital connections in the brain that influence your child's emotional, social and intellectual make-up. The brain is affected by influences from your child's environment in these early years.

The brain uses our sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) to tell us what is going on in the world. Everything we experience is filtered through our senses. Our senses send signals to our brain that can alter how our brain understands and responds to experiences and information.

The important role of parents in the early years

Researchers have found that the relationship between a parent and child in the early years affects the child's brain development in many ways.

When children are provided with loving and caring experiences in these early years, the connections in the brain for feeling good and learning are strengthened.

Babies and young children need lots of nurturing, touching and stimulation to enable them to learn and grow in the best possible way.

Early positive relationships with parents promote curiosity, self esteem and confidence in developing children.

These relationships will assist children to better cope with life's challenges.

During the early years spend time:

  • Holding and cuddling your child
  • Talking to and smiling with your child
  • Recognising and responding to your child's signals
  • Providing your child with new experiences and opportunities
  • Make sure that your children feel safe and secure
The Early Years
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