Early child development is quite significant to the life of a child. A child requires a firm foundation which will enable it to have a good start in life and be able to be successful in various details of its life. The early stages of the life of a child are characterized by an ability to quickly grasp knowledge and learn quickly. The early years act as the stepping stones for the child to life. These stages help the child to gain various skills which will help the child as it grows up. Early child development is therefore quite significant and there is a need for the authorities to come up with sound policies concerning the development of the child during the early years.
This is a research paper which examines early childhood development in the society. The paper starts by examining what early child development is and goes ahead to examine the significance of early child development. The paper discusses the role played by early child development in the lives of the children. The paper also examines the challenges faced by the modern day parenting and gives the suggestion that the best way this can be overcame if parenting is taken as a communal activity whereby the social institutions take part in shaping the lives of the children while they are still young. This research paper will make use of literature review as the main source of data collection. Various books and articles are used in the collection of data.
About Early Childhood Development
This section examines the significance of bringing up a child in a proper way. This is done in reference to the views of UNICEF. Early childhood development has been viewed and ranked as one of the most important stages of a human growth. This stage has often being argued to be a major determinant of how a person grows up and what kind of a person he/she is likely to develop into. According to UNICEF (2007), “what happens – or doesn’t happen – to children in the earliest years of their lives is of critical importance, both to their immediate well-being and to their future” (p. 1). UNICEF (2007) argues that a child who receives the best care in early childhood stages often has a head start in life: growing healthily, developing language and learning capacities early and leading a productive life. However UNICEF (2007) reports that this is usually not the case for all the children in the world. The trends of early childhood development have often been shown to be at far extremes; while some begin on the right tract others are depraved of the chance to start well in life and as a result end up struggling in life. Early childhood development has been shown to be the future of the nations, communities, and the whole world depends on early childhood development.
From statistics, it has been shown that over 200 million children all over the world lack the proper care that is required to make them grow physic ally in an active way being healthy emotionally and alert mentally. This kind statistics shows possible rise of problems in the near future as the population will mainly be constituted of people who are not likely to contribute positively to the society. UNICEF (2007) argues that the main cause of bad upbringing of children is poverty (UNICEF par. 1). This section brings out one fact about early childhood development; it is important to the later life of the child as it prepares the child in readiness for life by arming it with the necessary skills that are vital for life. In the same manner the community or nation and the world at large gets to benefit from this child this well brought up child. This shows the significance of well upbringing of a child.
Challenges to childhood development
The main challenge to proper childhood development as seen above in poverty: bringing up a child in the right manner requires finance without which the child will be deprived of some important facilities in life including food, education, among others which are meant to ensure that there is a proper growth of the child. The UN has noticed these problems with a lot concern and instituted the Millennium Development Goals which were ratified all the UN members: the goals are meant to reduce the poverty levels and raise the standards of living by 2015. Early childhood development is among the goals that the UN members are supposed to achieve and ensure that it is properly cared for: “Seven of the eight goals directly relate to child survival, growth and development” (UNICEF par. 2).Further arguments advocate for prevention and views as being more cost effective than later treatment: “Research has shown that the most effective interventions to improve human development and break the cycle of poverty occur most in children’s earliest years” (UNICEF par. 2).
Another challenge which has been noticed with equal concern is the development and implementation of effective policies which reach out to all the children in order to ensure that all the children do benefit and grow being healthy physically and developmentally ready for learning. It is important that these policies ensure that there is, “the important issues are ensuring positive gender socialization, supporting parents and families and developing standards and indicators for effective planning, monitoring and documentation of the progress in Early Childhood Development” (UNICEF par. 2).
It is said that the early mark a person’s fastest growing period: “from the time of conception to the first day of kindergarten, development proceeds at a pace exceeding that of any subsequent stage of life” (Jack, Shonkof and Phillips 4). The first eight years and particularly the first three have been depicted as the most crucial for a child as they are reported to greatly affect the child for life. At this stage a child is said to grasp a lot of information. Children learnt most when they receive good diet, attention and affection. This is said to increase the likelihood that the children will grow later in life to make it possible for the competition between the girls and boys to be possible” (UNICEF par. 2). It has been reported to be very important to encourage the children to participate in the social activities like playing as this helps them to develop emotion ally, socially, intellectually and physically. Play has been depicted to be very powerfully in the development of a child: it provides a multifaceted experience for the children. This implies that those who interact with the children at the early yearly of growing in a very significant way affect the life of the children. This interaction has been defined as the being very important due to the fact that it sets the foundation for future learning in the school.
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Children start learning by imitating those who are around and play with them. This means that a child can be easily directed to learn the wrong way and hence the need for the children caretakers to learn the correct way of bringing up the children. According to Jack, Shonkof and Phillips (2004), “a fundamental paradox exists and is unavoidable: developmental in the early years is both highly vulnerable and highly robust” (p. 4). The caretakers should learn the ways of detecting that dev elopement of a child is taking a nose dive and take the necessary measures to make the corrections. The caregivers need to learn the knowledge of interacting with the children at the early stages as they are the determinants of what level a child will develop to.
Early childhood development ensures that the children enters school early enough and that if there is any challenge that a child might have then it is exposed early enough such the necessary arrangements can be made for the child. The same case applies to the case of those children who are talented; early childhood development helps to expose these talents such that the children with such abilities are taken to special classes to ensure that they exploit their talents.
Early childhood development policies
The policies governing early childhood development whether formally or informally are key to the policies that the future community will embrace. These policies actually modify the future society which will be consisted of the children being brought up by the current policies. Jack, Shonkof and Phillips (2004) report that the scientific findings have led to well understanding of the immense influence of the early childhood development. Researches in neurobiological, social and behavioral sciences have led to development and implementation of effective policies which affect the growth of the children from the early stages.
It has been noted that the issue of gender inequality is laid right down in the early childhood development stages. It is reported that the foundation for gender stereotypes in gender roles in first laid in the early childhood development experiences. This is often referred to as the social gender socialization. With proper policies issues of age restrictions will be reduced down to lower levels than what is seen currently especially in the developing nations. The issues of gender socialization differ from environment to environment. The early environment has been depicted as one of the most significant factors in the world of early childhood development:
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Virtually every aspect of early human development, from the brain’s evolving circuitry to the child’s capacity for empathy, is affected by the environments and experiences that are encountered in a cumulative fashion, beginning early in the pre natal period and extending throughout the early childhood life. The question today is not whether early experiences matters, but rather how early experience shape individual development and contribute to children’s continued movement along positive pathways. (Jack, Shonkof and Phillips, 6)
Policies should be developed in a proper way to ensure that the children benefit most and that they are brought up in the correct manner. The caretaker should ensure that dev elopement of a child is measure to ensure that the child is on an upward development growth. McCarthy and Phillips (2006) have identified two ways which can be adapted to measure the rate at which a child is developing: charting the milestones that reflect the changes that are observed in an average child and the second method is by assessing the individual differences among individual children (p. xiv).
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The Modern day parenting challenge
Today’s society brings forth challenges to the parents some of which are hard to deal with as they arise from the modern technology which has become increasingly hard to control. It should be appreciated that despite the fact that governments are investing in educating the children taking care of their welfare and health care for the children, though it has been argued that that these programs are widely dispatched and there are some important factors that are left out. The modern society has made it so hard for parents to dedicate their time to their children. The modern day challenges have made it possible for parents to shift the parenting role to the house helps. This is a big challenge to the child bringing up style and is likely to lead to bad bringing up of children (Gunn and Fuligni 345).
The modern day society presents many challenges to parenting. It has been shown that both environment and genetics do matter and need to be carefully managed. It is becoming increasing evident that parenting in the modern day society cannot be carried out by just the parents but by combined efforts from the society especially from the social institutions such as schools and churches. Care should be taken especially by the parents not to neglect their children to the social institutions because they (parents) form the very first contact with the child are the very first trainers of the child. They form the link and make it possible for the other social institutions to handle and teach a child how to go about his/her social life. This implies that the parents are the biggest determinants of the way a child will be brought up (Gunn and Fuligni 345).
Early child development is quite significant and helps the child to develop in an all round manner. It becomes possible for the child to grow in the social aspect. When interacting with the child it becomes possible for the child to acquire socializing skills and ability to form attachments cooperate and share with others, and being able to create long lasting relationship with others. All this is acquired through playing with others. Through playing with others, the child also develops physically and gains synergy required for the child to have a head start in life. The interactions through playing also make it possible for the child to develop intellectual skills and understanding of the environment around the child. Through these interactions it becomes possible for the child to develop emotionally. These interactions prepare the child for life by teaching it the necessary skills which are required to enable it develop in life to full capacity. The skills which are gained during early child development are the stepping stones for the development of the child later in life. Children who are well brought up are less likely to be caught in law breaking activities in future (Gunn and Fuligni 355).
The early days of a child have been shown to be the most productive stage of a child. At this stage the child is said to gain skills and knowledge at a very fast rate. it has been reported that the life of a child is often determined at this stage and the kind of a person the child will grow to be will depend on how this stage is handled by the guardians. Because of this significance of early childhood development, it has been proposed by various international bodies that care should be taken to ensure that children are well taken care at this stage. At the fore front of these campaign is UNICEF which has persuaded its members to adopt strategies which will help to raise the standards of the children. The body is also helping its members to fight poverty which has been viewed as the biggest challenge to bad parenting especially in the early stages of life. It has been shown that the environment is a factor in the upbringing of a child and as such there is need for the social institutions to participate in the child upbringing. However, it has been noted that parents play the biggest and most significant role in early child development.
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