Why early childhood is so important

Herald file photo.

Donna Strauss
Co-chair, Prince Albert Early Childhood Council

The vision of the Prince Albert Early Childhood Council is that all children in Prince Albert and area enjoy a good start in life and are nurtured and supported by caring families and communities. The Council is comprised of individuals from community agencies and organizations involved in a variety of ways with early childhood development. We work together to ensure that adequate services are available in our community and we work to promote education around the importance of early childhood development. We will use this space to provide you with the information you need to know around early childhood development, services and supports available in our community and what an important role parents and caregivers play in forming our future citizens.

Research estimates that every dollar spent in the early years of a child’s life to support families, saves 7 dollars in services down the road. We also know that the return is higher for those children considered at risk. We know that a child’s experiences during the prenatal period and the first five years of life have a lasting impact on their social, emotional and intellectual development. Childhood experiences set the stage for the kind of adults they will become.

The first five years build the foundation for life. The brain grows and changes a lot during this period. When children are young, connections grow and strengthen within the brain. These connections help the brain’s different parts communicate with each other and the rest of the body. Because there is so much growth in the brain during this period, adults have an opportunity to influence brain development in good ways and in bad. Just as parents feed their children healthy foods so that their bodies can grow and develop to their fullest potential, parents and caregivers can also provide healthy experiences so that their children’s brains develop to their fullest. A child’s brain develops in a “use-dependant” fashion. This means that experiences in early childhood shape the way our brain grows, works and communicates. The more stimulating and loving experiences a child is provided with, the more influence these experiences will have on the child’s brain development.

Did you know?..that a baby can’t be “spoiled”. Babies, with caregivers that respond to them when they cry, will cry much less and feel more secure than babies who are left to cry. This develops a secure attachment that gives children the comfort of knowing that their needs will be meet. …that reading a book to your child each day gives him listening and talking skills, imagination, memory and feelings of security.

It can start prenatally!…that when your family follows a routine- regular bedtimes, mealtimes, daily rituals-your child learns what to expect and feels safe and secure. Setting boundaries and reinforcing them in a calm, kind and respectful way assures children that you care.

For more information on the Council and for links to early childhood services in our community go to www.paecc.ca.