Children develop rapidly during their early years and positive or negative experiences have implications for children’s well-being, school readiness and later success in life.
Early childhood encompasses the period of human development from the prenatal stage through the transition into the early primary grades.
During a child’s early years, there are four main critical domains of development: physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socioemotional.
ECD links the young child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical processes with the care and services (provided by families, communities, and the nation) required to support their development.
Poverty, nutritional deficiencies and inadequate learning opportunities are among the leading reasons that at least 200 million children in the developing world are not reaching their developmental potential.
The entry points to influence young children’s development are diverse and involve multiple stakeholders.
Policies and programs in a variety of sectors and areas affect ECD outcomes, including: healthcare and hygiene, nutrition, education, child protection, social protection and poverty alleviation.
These policies and programs can be aimed at the pregnant woman, the child, the caregiver or the family as a whole.
Interventions can take place in a variety of environments, including: the home, at a preschool or child care center, a hospital or health post or a community center.