IMPORTANCE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES – CHILD REARING PRACTICES AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT All of us learn throughout our lives. It starts from the day we are born. It is now recognised that the early years of life are the most important for learning. That’s when the foundations for the future are laid, and when we begin moving down the path that will take us through childhood, the teenage years and ultimately into adulthood.
What are the early years?
People use the term ‘the early years’ in slightly different ways. To some it means the years from birth to eight years; to others it means the years before school; while others focus mainly on the first three years of life. All these periods are critical in every child’s life. The important thing is that we provide real opportunities for children to learn, develop and have fun during those years, regardless of what term we use.
What are the factors affecting early childhood experiences?
• influences within themselves – their genetic inheritance, temperament, gender, and health
• influences within the family – family size, family relationships, parenting styles and values, the family’s financial situation, parents’ level of education, parents’ occupation, and parents’ physical and mental health
• influences within the community – children’s services (both availability and quality), support for parenting, housing (both quality and security of tenure), safety and crime in the neighbourhood, unemployment levels and the general feeling of trust among the residents
• influences within their culture – with different cultures marked by differences in parenting styles, beliefs and values, and different views on how children should be educated and reared.
What does the research show about the importance of the early years?
The importance of the early years is now well known throughout India and the rest of the world. These years are a time when the brain develops and much of its ‘wiring’ is laid down. The experiences and relationships a child has, plus nutrition and health, can actually affect this enormously. Positive experiences help the brain to develop in healthy ways. Seriously negative experiences such as neglect and abuse, on the other hand, affect brain development in more harmful ways, and contribute to emotional and behavioural problems later in life. So the experiences a child has in the early years can either support learning or interfere with it.
As the organisation Zero to Three says in its booklet titled Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth: “The brain is the only organ that is not fully formed at birth. During the first three years, trillions of connections between brain cells are being made. A child’s relationships and experiences during the early years greatly influence how their brain grows”.
What are some important areas of Early childhood experiences?
Health and physical wellbeing are the basis for all Positive learning and development. Areas such as eating habits, attitudes towards exercise and self care routines build from the child’s earliest experiences.
One of the most important things children learn in the early years is about themselves – that is, they develop a picture of themselves that affects the ways they approach any situation, task, or relationship with another person. In other words, they develop a self concept. An important part of that self concept is the picture they have of themselves as learners: is it okay to be curious, to explore, to ask questions, to tackle problems, to try to figure things out, to experiment? Is it okay to try something and ail sometimes? Being a good learner means having a go, seeing yourself as capable, and taking reasonable risks.
• Use of the body, including hands
• Respect for others
• how to relate to others, both adults and other children
• how to resolve conflict
• problem solving skills
• getting used to the things...