You asked

How important are my child's early years to his or her long term development?

Recent developments in research into childhood learning and development have shown that a large portion of the learning that children do happens during the first six years of their lives. It’s therefore incredibly important that parents and care givers pay proper attention to their development during this time.

During these years, children are more motivated to learn, and if they receive the support and help they need to do that, it sets them up for a lifetime of learning.
When children are cared for by people who understand this, and who are engaged in helping them to learn, they will almost always grow up with a love of learning.

Some of the things your child is learning during these formative years include:
How their bodies work, and how to use them.
How to engage others, and how respect works.
Conflict resolution skills, and how to relate to peers and adults.
Communication skills, and how to solve problems using creative thinking.
The differences, and similarities, between themselves and others.
Confidence, self knowledge, and their sense of identity.
Socially acceptable behaviour.
Self care

Your child begins to learn about all of these things, and more, from birth, and there are several ways you can help your child to learn them.

More questions

For many parents, child minders are the best child care option. Use this list to find out whether you’ve found the right one.
Finding quality childcare isn’t always easy, but it is possible if you know what to look for.
How your baby is looked after in childcare can have a long lasting impact on development, so it’s important to make informed choices.
Play is the single most important learning tool that young children have at their disposal.
Choosing the right child care is important to your child’s development – now and in future. Fortunately, there are some clear signs that the childcare you are considering is a good one.
The so called ‘formative’ years truly are one of the most important periods in any child’s development, and it’s important that parents and caregivers facilitate learning during this time.
Helping your child to learn during the early years sets him or her up for a lifetime of successful learning.
If you’re looking at several sessional preschools, and cannot come to a decision on a particular one, then looking at our checklist can help.
A play school or play group is a great choice if you want to prepare your child for formal schooling, and don’t need to have full day care.
A crèche is one of the better known child care options that offers full day services to a wide range of ages.

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