Experts in child development have long known that the earliest years of a child’s life are a critical period of development across a range of domains: physical, socio-emotional, behavioral, and cognitive (Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000). Advances in brain science further demonstrate that there are important physiological processes taking place, starting in utero and continuing through the first years of life, that shape the neural networks in the brain responsible for cognition, emotions, and executive function (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2007, 2011). This process of early development lays a critical foundation for school readiness and educational progress in elementary school and beyond. These strands of research have prompted leaders in government, education, and business to take notice of policies that support or hinder children’s development during these critical early years.
Source: the RAND Corporation