Research shows that there is a critical time in which children’s brains develop.
- Between birth and age five, the brain grows faster than at any other time. It is most adaptable and open to change during this period.
- A child’s early experiences shape brain structure. Genes provide the blueprint for brain development, but the early experiences determine how this potential is fulfilled and the brain grows and develops.
- Positive interaction between children and their environment are essential for healthy development.
- The brain is built like a house through a step-by-step process that begins with the foundation. A strong foundation creates a sound structure.
- Emotional, physical, social and intellectual development is interdependent and cannot be separated. All are essential to positive development.
- Severe, prolonged stress, such as physical and emotional abuse, extreme poverty, severe maternal depression, chronic neglect, chaotic and unpredictable environments can damage the developing brain. Extreme stress can negatively impact lifelong physical and mental health, learning, behaviour and ability to cope.
Why positive early development pays off.
Every dollar spent on quality early care and education can save taxpayers up to $13,000 in future costs. Investing in early childhood makes economic sense. It’s easier to “get things right” in the early years when the brain is most adaptable and changeable. Positive development provides the building blocks for lifelong health, productivity, high education levels, good citizenships, successful parenting and strong communities.
The above information was extracted from the Alberta Government’s Information Sheet ECMap Early Child Development Mapping Project Alberta January 2013
Why is the Early Development Instrument (EDI) important?
- The EDI provides information on how groups of children are developing in five domains: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and thinking skills, and communication and general knowledge.
- It is a scientifically validated survey, developed by the Oxford Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario
- The EDI is administered in February of the child’s kindergarten year.
- It is widely used across Canada
- Having good information about how young children are doing helps parents, communities, service providers and government to support positive early development.
How are the results helpful?
- Communities are able to learn more about their children’s development and to compare their development with other communities, the province and nationally.
- Communities are able to identify their strengths and needs and make more informed decisions on how to best support young children and families
- The information is useful for local and provincial policy development.
Community results are available from 2009 to 2014 for more than 52,000 kindergarten-aged children in Alberta. The results indicate that the majority of children in Alberta are developing well, however, nearly 29 percent are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development and close to 15 percent are experiencing great difficulty in two or more areas of development. This is slightly higher than the Canadian norm of roughly 12 percent. The results for children in Leduc County and the Cities of Leduc and Beaumont can be found HERE:
The above information was extracted from the Alberta Government’s Community profiles of early childhood development in Alberta ECMap April 2014