Early Childhood Development: Early Moments matter!
The first 1000 days (about 2 and a half years), from conception up to two years of age, set the foundation of everyone’s life. Hence, investments in Early Childhood Development are critical for children, communities, and nations.
Early Moments matter!
The first 1000 days (about two and a half years), from conception to two years of age, set the foundation of everyone’s life. Hence, investments in Early Childhood Development are critical for children, communities and nations.
Early Childhood offers a critical window of opportunity to shape a child’s development trajectory and build a foundation for the future. For children to achieve their full potential, they need proper nutrition, adequate health care, protection from harm and a sense of security, opportunities for early learning, and responsive caregiving – like talking, singing, and playing – with parents and caregivers who love them.
Children’s brains are built, moment by moment, as they interact with their environments. In the first few years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed each second, a rate of development never repeated. Children who miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pay the price in lost potential. And we all pay the price. Failing to give children the best start in life perpetuates cycles of poverty and disadvantage that can span generations, undermining the strength and stability of our societies.
Early Childhood Development includes many interventions, including support to parents and caregivers, exclusive breastfeeding, early learning and creating an enabling environment through government initiatives and the engagement of the private sector.
26% of the population in Zimbabwe is younger than eight
42% of children in Zimbabwe are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life
63% of children in Zimbabwe are enrolled in early childhood education
48% of children in Zimbabwe have their births registered
Parenting programmes are crucial to improve the support, confidence and skills parents and caregivers need to engage in nurturing care, bonding and playful interactions with their children. They are shown to dramatically reduce childhood adversity, break intergenerational patterns of abuse and neglect, promote caregivers’ mental health, and promote the well-being of children across the life course.
Exclusive breastfeeding till six months is pivotal in preventing malnutrition and ensuring young children get a good start in life. Breastmilk is the only food a baby needs for the first six months. It ensures good physical growth and cognitive development of the child; helps prevent malnutrition; provides immunity and protects young children against infections and childhood illnesses; and is readily available, safe, and does not cost anything.
The opportunity to learn from an early age is of critical importance for a child’s development. Children enrolled in at least one year of early education are more likely to develop the essential skills they need to succeed in school, less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, and therefore more able to contribute to peaceful and prosperous societies and economies when they reach adulthood.
For Early Childhood Development to fully materialize, there is a need for public investment and the engagement of the private sector.