Early Childhood Development: 7 Things Every Parent Should Know

When you’re handed your newborn baby, there’s no manual explaining the best way to care for them. Science has come a long way and now, experts in psychology know a lot more about early childhood development. When parents know more, we can parent better! 

Fortunately for parents, helping your baby grow up to achieve their full potential isn’t rocket science (although it may feel as exhausting and overwhelming). Read on to learn seven things all parents should know about early childhood education. But first, what is early childhood education, exactly?

ECD: Meaning of the Acronym

The acronym ECD means “Early Childhood Development.” Usually, ECD is used to refer to how young children grow and learn from birth to age three. Sometimes, the term early childhood development is used more loosely and can include children up until school age. People who study early childhood development study the way children grow, learn, build skills, and socialize. 

7 Important Facts Parents Should Know About Early Childhood Development

Understanding how children develop can help parents make better decisions. Here are the key facts that every parent needs to know:

  • Meeting Basic Needs Is the Most Important 
  • When babies are born, their life experiences build the brain’s architecture. That means that when you meet your child’s needs for comfort and food, you help them develop a healthy brain. Normal interactions such as cooing, laughing and talking to your baby also help with brain development in early childhood. 

  • Developmental Milestones Are Not Set in Stone
  • You may have heard of developmental milestones that babies and children reach as they grow. For example, learning to roll over or sit up on their own are a few developmental milestones. Many parents feel worried and concerned about whether or not their child is meeting milestones. While it’s important to be aware of milestones, they are more of a general guideline than set in stone. Some children reach some milestones earlier than others. Be sure to bring up any concerns with your child’s pediatrician. However, in most cases, children naturally meet milestones at their own pace. 

  • Brain Development in Early Childhood is Enormous 
  • Your child’s brain is growing and changing at enormous rates during early childhood. Neuroplasticity is at its greatest when your child turns three. However, that doesn’t mean there’s a time limit for learning. While it’s important to take advantage of this period for learning, you don’t need to sign your child up for classes 7 days a week! Remember, much of the important learning happens at home through play. 

  • Children Learn Through Play
  • As Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child.” Through play, babies and young children learn everything they need to know. While climbing, toddlers learn to take risks. When pouring water, they learn about measurements and cause and effect. Making plenty of time for playing is important. Young children love copying adults, so they can also play by helping with cleaning in the kitchen, cooking, or dressing up. Similarly, imaginative play also brings many benefits including learning vocabulary and emotional regulation skills. 

  • There Are Many Areas of Development to Consider
  • Physical and brain development in early childhood involves so many aspects. Here are some of the areas of growth that your child will experience:

    • Language development
    • Social and emotional 
    • Cognitive development
    • Physical growth 
    • Gross motor development
    • Fine motor development
    • And so much more!
    • Your Child Can Be A Great Guide

    During childhood in general, your child will naturally show you their interests and needs. By paying attention, parents can help their children explore their interests when they’re most motivated to learn. For example, toddlers might get into the toilet because they like playing with water. Or, they start climbing all over the couch and any furniture in sight. In these ways, they’re showing a need to play with water and climb. As parents, we can then provide opportunities to play in the kitchen sink or safe climbing toys.

  • You Are Everything Your Child Needs
  • Parenting is hard work! It can be difficult to feel like you’re doing everything right to help your child develop and reach their full potential. Any parent who is concerned enough about their child to read about early childhood development is a great parent. Remember, you know your child best which means that you are the best person to help them grow. 

    By learning about early childhood development, we can understand our children better. Plus, when we know better, we do better. Was any of this information new to you? Or do you have something to add to the list? Let’s chat! Get in touch with us on social media to discuss early childhood development and how it impacts your parenting.