Early childhood is a critical period in a child’s life because it determines their overall brain development. Within the first 5 years of a child’s life 90% of their brain has developed! Because of this, early childhood is an exceptionally crucial time to ensure complete and successful brain development.
1. In the first years of life 700-1,000 new neural connections are formed every second!
2. By the age of 5, 90% of a child’s brain is developed, leaving 10% of development after the age of 5.
In Depth Look
Over the course of our lives, our brains are developing from the bottom to the top. Simple neural connections are formed first and then later more complex connections are formed. Much like a muscle, when a certain connection is used infrequently it becomes weaker and less likely to be used in the future, this relates to age old adage “use it or lose it”. The connections being made early in childhood serve as the foundation for the child’s learning throughout their life, which positions this time as extremely important.
The brain is impacted by both genetics and environmental experiences, there is little distinction between nature and nurture, both work in tandem in developing the architecture of the brain. Genetics and external experiences serve to develop the overall brain architecture of children. These developments are needed for mental flexibility which allows for the ability to multitask and address different demands. Additionally, early development offers the foundation for later development of self-control which creates a high functioning, academically and socially successful individual able to contribute to society.
Harvard: Developing Child
University of Minnesota: Project for Babies
The Science of Early Childhood Development