Matter of Early Childhood Development

(Mehr Parwar, Islamabad)

The contemporary trend in education and learning put greater stress on early stimulation and interaction for building brains. Most people especially educators, teachers and parents have limited knowledge to understand the significance of early childhood stimulation. Building brain is the most important and challenging element from conception to the start of school. It helps to open a critical window of opportunity by shaping the underlying factors in a child’s brain development. It requires positive response and interactive stimulation from adults to expand children’s brain.

During early stage, the brain of a child rapidly grows, and brain neurons connect in an unprecedented scale resulting in children’s cogitative emotional and social development. The more a child is exposed to opportunities in a caring environment, with supportive response and encouragement from adults, the more it enhances the child’s brain capacity to learn, to solve problems and to relate to other. This, in turn, has a significant impact on their adult lives, positively influencing their ability to earn livelihood and contribute to the society and bring optimum satisfaction and pleasure to their lives. For the teeming millions of the world’s disadvantaged children, this vital window of opportunity is gravely missed. The issue is that we do not provide children with a facilitative and supportive environment at home and school. To do so we require to clearly understand what children have in their brains. Unluckily, we fail to note that development of a children’s brain is equally important as development of their bodies. This implies what we contribute to properly groom of children can have significant impacts on their subsequent lives and wider welfare of the society in the future.

Early investments pay more than we think. A study of UNICEF reveals that ‘the investment can pay financial dividends in individual earnings of up to 25 percent. For governments the return on investment can be more than 13 percent’. A complete care and well-nourished food with loving and protective environment a fair change to grow thrive and develop a child’s full potential with better health and more education. This supportive environment and early education opportunities prepare more peaceful mind with positive stimulation equipping individuals with knowledge and skills towards prosperity thus preparing children for their future and for of the generation that follows.

Considering three essential ingredients bring positive child development which are; nutrition, health and protection. Unfortunately, underdeveloped countries miss these essentialities put children in developmental delays and bring poverty with low socio-economic conditions and poverty in families and country. In Pakistan above 40% children are stunted and malnourished. A research on ECD in Pakistan y Arshad and Zamir, 2018 highlights that, currently, our community and schools lack the ability to plan, implement and supervise ECE programs, and this is because of poverty and lack of access to basic social services. Poverty is the biggest obstacle in addressing the requirements of children and protecting and promoting children’s rights, including education (Ahmad, 2011).

Considering these mentioned issues now there has been a growing stress on ECD to work on through developing strategic plans at field level and expand access to effective and essential early childhood development services in homes, schools, communities and health clinics. Government and their partners can integrate early childhood interventions into existing practices such as health and educational protects and reach more children and families in communities. These programs should be cost-effective by using local available human resources and services. One of such programs can be a health and nutrition program in which ‘Child and Mother Health Screening Program’ should be carried out along with local health institutions within communities collectively. Likewise, Parenting Education Programs such as counselling for new parents and mothers on childcare, breastfeeding, guidance on nutrition and baby-mother health should be carried out in underdeveloped communities. Lady health workers ’ services should be expanded in communities on regularly basis to educate parents on effective services such as antenatal care etc.

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