Early Childhood Development

Topics: Jean Piaget, Psychology, Brain Pages: 6 (1636 words) Published: July 2, 2013
Early Childhood Development


The early childhood development subject is explored by using findings from the cited sources. I studied and analysed the concepts relating early childhood development and reported my learning under different sections predominantly featuring the human brain. There are six headings including an overview and a brief conclusion. The four main areas being examined are as follows, brain development, motor development, infant memory and the cognitive development.

Early Childhood Development

Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in one’s life. Although individual children develop at their own unique pace, all children progress through a set of sequence of physical and cognitive developmental stages. Overview of Early Childhood Development

Learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins and continues throughout life. Recent studies of early childhood investments have shown remarkable success and indicate that the early childhood is important for early learning. Moreover, early childhood interventions of high quality have lasting effects on learning and motivation. Science shows us what children must have, and what they need to be protected from, in order to promote their healthy development. Stable, responsive, nurturing relationships and rich learning experiences in the earliest years provide lifelong benefits for learning, behavior and both physical and mental health. In contrast, research on the biology of stress in early childhood shows how chronic stress caused by major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse or neglect, can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert, thereby increasing the risk for a range of chronic diseases.

Brain Development

The brain is a highly integrated organ, and its multiple functions operate in a richly coordinated fashion. The following basic concepts help illustrate why healthy child development from birth to five years provides a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society. The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins in the womb and continues into adulthood. Early experiences affect the quality of that architecture by establishing either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for the learning, health and behavior that follow. In the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, these connections are reduced through a process called pruning, so that brain circuits become more efficient. Sensory pathways, like those for basic vision and hearing, are the first to develop, followed by early language skills and later by higher cognitive functions. Connections proliferate and prune in a prescribed order, with later, more complex brain circuits built upon earlier, simpler circuits. The interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions and gestures, and adults respond with similar kinds of vocalizing and gesturing back at them. In the absence of such responses – or if the responses are unreliable or inappropriate – the brain’s architecture does not form as expected, which can lead to disparities in learning and behavior. The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age. It is most flexible, or “plastic,” early in life to accommodate a wide range of environments and interactions, but as the maturing brain becomes more specialized to assume more complex functions, it is less capable of reorganizing and adapting to new or unexpected challenges. Although the windows for complex language learning and other skills remain open, these brain circuits become increasingly difficult to alter over time. Early plasticity means it’s easier and more effective to...
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