Early childhood development
Early childhood, the first five years of life, is a time of rapid cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and motor development, and the most important period of development in a child’s life.
The development of a child’s brain depends on environmental stimulation, especially on the quality of care and interaction that the child receives. A baby who is hugged, cooed to, comforted and visually stimulated has an essential advantage. Children who are nurtured and well cared for are more likely to fully develop cognitive, language, emotional and social skills; to grow up healthier; and to have higher self-esteem. Each of these areas is crucial to our well-being as adults, as our experiences in early childhood shape who we ultimately become. While home is the most important environment during early childhood, it is crucial that children are exposed to some form of quality early childhood services, such as those provided at early childhood development centres.
According to a survey on the situation of children and women in Thailand conducted by the National Statistical Office in 2012 with support from UNICEF, about 84 per cent of children aged 3-5 attended some form of organized early childhood education prorgramme. However, the rate is lower in municipal areas. In Bangkok, access to early childhood education for children aged 3-5 is just 66 per cent.
In respect to their development, 94 per cent of children aged 3-5 who attend early childhood learning programmes are developmentally on track, while only 77 per cent of the same age group who are not attending early childhood learning programmes are on track.
According to a quality assessment survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2013, only 67 per cent of some 20,000 early childhood development centres nationwide passed the quality assessment.
What we do
UNICEF is working with the MoE and the Ministry of Interior to promote access to quality early childhood development services. With UNICEF support, in 2010 Thailand adopted the use of Early Childhood Learning Development Standards (ELDS), which set measurable knowledge and activity levels for children 0-to-5 years of age. These standards are now being employed by teachers and professionals working with young children, and they will serve as the guiding framework for early childhood development for children throughout the country.
• Early childhood, the first five years of life, is the important period of development in a child’s life
• A child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life
• But 84 per cent of children aged 3-5 in Thailand were attending early childhood development services
• In Bangkok, access to early childhood education for children aged 3-5 is just 66 per cent
• Of some 20,000 early childhood development centres nationwide, about 67 per cent passed quality assessement in 2013