"The early childhood period is the basis for later success in life. It is the time when a child’s brain develops at a rapid rate creating plenty of opportunities for children’s learning and development. A child can have a good start in life when he/she grows up in a nurturing and stimulating environment that meets his/her essential needs such as nutrition, health, and safety, as well as the psychological, social, spiritual, and intellectual needs. This also means that the child has a greater chance of reaching his/her full potential later in life. Therefore, it is important to address children’s needs holistically because the absence of one or more essential needs can lead to negative developmental outcomes for children."
Source: Catholic Relief Services. 2016. "Early Childhood Development - Basic Concepts: Training for Early Childhood Caregivers and Teachers". <https://www.crs.org/sites/default/files/crs-files/module-two-resource-guide.pdf>. Accessed 08 June 2020.
"The definition of ECD has three parts: (i) the ‘early childhood’ period of life, (ii) what constitutes ‘development’ and (iii) how development occurs. When is the early childhood phase? The early childhood period encompasses several quite distinct phases: from ‘conception to birth’ and from ‘birth to 3 years’, with emphasis on the first 1,000 days (from conception to 24 months), followed by the ‘preschool and pre-primary years (3 years to 5 or 6 years, or the age of school entry). (...) These are not precise phases, but they are useful categories to ensure policy development and programming responses to the specific sensitive periods along the developmental trajectory. What is development? Development is an outcome. It is the continuous process of acquiring skills and abilities during this age period – across the domains of cognition, language, motor, social and emotional development – which helps us to think, solve problems, communicate, express our emotions and form relationships. It is also considered the foundation of health, learning, productivity, wellbeing and the building blocks for future human capital formation. How does development occur? Development is the result of the interaction between the environment and the child. A stable environment is one that is sensitive to children’s health and nutritional needs, with protection from threats, opportunities for early learning, and interactions that are responsive, emotionally supportive and developmentally stimulating. The key aspect of this environment is ‘nurturing care’, which consists of a core set of interrelated components, including behaviours, attitudes, and knowledge about caregiving (e.g., health, hygiene care and feeding); stimulation (e.g., talking, singing and playing); responsiveness (e.g., early bonding, secure attachment, trust and sensitive communication); and safety (e.g., routines, protection from violence, abuse, neglect, harm and environmental pollution). As an overarching concept, nurturing care is supported by its reinforcement by a large community as well as policy influences."
Source: UNICEF. 2017. "UNICEF's Programme Guidance for Early Childhood Development: UNICEF Programme Division 2017". <https://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/files/FINAL_ECD_Programme_Guidance._September._2017.pdf>. Accessed 08 June 2020.