Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in a human life. Although individual children develop at their own pace, all children progress through an identifiable sequence of physical, cognitive, and emotional growth and change.
The ultimate goal of Early Child Development (ECD) programs is to improve young children’s capacity to develop and learn. A child who is ready for school has a combination of positive characteristics: he or she is socially and emotionally healthy, confident, and friendly; has good peer relationships; tackles challenging tasks and persists with them; has good language skills and communicates well; and listens to instructions and is attentive. The positive effects ECD programs have can change the development trajectory of children by the time they enter school. A child who is ready for school has less chances of repeating a grade, being placed in special education, or being a school drop out.
ECD interventions include educating and supporting parents, delivering services to children, developing capacities of caregivers and teachers, and using mass communications to enhance parents and caregiver's knowledge and practices. Programs for children can be center or home-based, formal or non-formal, and can include parent education.
Why is ECD important?
Early child development (ECD) remains one of the most powerful levers for accelerating Education For All (EFA) and meeting the Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty. ECD is the first toward Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals. It is essential for all education and the elimination of poverty
Early Child Development is the first and essential step toward achieving primary school completion.
Learning begins at birth, if not before. It does not wait for kindergarten or primary school. It develops in relation to broad environmental forces. Both the content of learning and learning behaviors are influenced by the immediate surroundings of a child’s family, home, and community. Education begins here – neither in the confines of a school building, nor when a child reaches primary school age
ECD is considered within the EFA framework. EFA goal 1 is to expand and improve ECD for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
For more information visit World Bank Early Child Development (ECD) website.