By AMY STOCKWELL.
If you want to make a lucrative investment in a futures fund, you should consider investing in our children’s future.
Last month, some important data was released about how well children are doing when they start school. Released in April, the 2012 Australian Early Development Index 2012 measured how well children across Australia are growing up – it looks at the social, physical and cognitive development of children in Australia who have just started school.
This research shows most children in Australia are on track in key developmental areas. Unfortunately, it highlighted 1 in 5 children starting school have already fallen behind in at least one of these critical areas of development.
Before our children put their uniforms on for the first time, we have a role to play in helping them to develop important skills to help them later in life.
Why is this timing so important? Why must we start before the bell?
International research shows that once a child falls behind they are likely to stay behind. Once a child falls behind, it is almost impossible for them to catch up to their peers.
To understand why, we need to look to neuroscience and the science behind early childhood development.
Every second of a child’s life, a staggering 700 new brain connections are made. By the time a child is 5, more than 80% of their brain has been developed. If a child receives the best support in these early years, they will grow up to be healthy, develop strong language and learning capacities, start school on the right foot, stay in school longer and lead a productive and fulfilling life.
While it is true, the blueprint for a child’s brain is drawn up by genetics, it is the experiences and relationships that babies and children have in their first few years that are the real building blocks for shaping a child’s future. These are the simple things like positive social and emotional connections that we can offer our children for free as frequently as we choose. The quality of our children’s earliest surroundings and the availability of positive experiences at the right stages of development shape their outcomes.
The family and friends that surround our children have a significant influence on our children’s development. The community that children grow up in, the care they get before they start school and the health services they interact with all play a role in supporting optimal development.
Science has given us a window of opportunity for brain-building: before kids start formal school. This is the time when we can have the best chance of ensuring our children learn the essential skills to support their transition to school and build the foundation for lifelong success.
If you return to work and put your child in care (and are lucky enough to find a spot!), whether it is family day care, community based care or formal care, it’s important to ensure what’s being offered is high quality. High quality means they offer a nurturing, caring environment with qualified educators who can support your child’s individual needs for attention and learning.
It’s a relative no-brainer that good early childhood education is good for kids. But this fact is not always enough for governments and industry to make the big investment required to ensure families can access affordable, quality early childhood education.