Brain Development

Brains are built and grow through touch, talk, sight and sound in early childhood experiences. This experiential learning starts long before a child steps foot into kindergarten, and is strengthened through regular interaction and stimulation in the home and in quality early learning settings.

During the first five years, a child’s brain is at its most flexible, making this a critical period for learning and growth. Science tells us that children who face adversity in the first years of life, especially those in low-income households, are more at risk for experiencing damage to their brain architecture, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Prevention through high-quality early learning and care provide the support children need to build a foundation for a healthy and productive future. Waiting until kindergarten is too late—children who receive quality early education demonstrate greater cognitive and socio-emotional growth than children who do not. Consider the following:

  • More than one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life. [1]
  • 90% of a child’s brain physical volume develops as early as five years old. [2]
  • The brain is most flexible and adaptable to learning during the earliest years of life. [3]
  • Children who face greater adversity, like living in poverty, are at far greater risk for delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development. [1]
  • Children are already rehearsing how to produce language at seven months old. [4]
  • Even as babies, children are learning the social skills that determine their future social capabilities. [5]
  • A supportive learning environment reduces the risk of children experiencing developmental delays. [1]
  • The brains of babies and young children require stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults in order for healthy brain development to take place. [6]