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.
But in Thailand, about 25 per cent of children do not have access to any form of organized early childhood education. In addition, only 34 per cent of the 8,276 early childhood centres surveyed meet the government’s minimum standards, according to the Office of National Education Standards and Quality Assurance.
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 only 75 per cent of children in Thailand were attending early childhood development services during 2005-2006
• Of 8,276 early childhood centres, only 34 per cent meet government minimum standard