Learning Begins at Birth
National Association for the Education of Young Children
The First Five Years, Wow!
The science is clear. From the time a child is born, he or she is learning every waking moment. In fact, babies and toddlers are either learning or sleeping. And between birth to age 5, a child learns at a speed unmatched the rest of his or her life! It is during these years – when more than 85 percent of a child’s brain is formed – that crucial brain connections are created. These connections help develop indispensable academic, social and cognitive skills, which are the basis for learning.
What You Do Matters
A rewarding school career starts long before a child enters the classroom. From infancy until the first day of school, parents and caregivers provide the essential early developmental experiences and nurturing relationships, which wire the young brain and build the necessary skills for lasting success.
Babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn best by imitation and gentle repetition. Hundreds of repetitions in a safe, supportive environment with people they love and trust. When you read, talk and play with a purpose with children beginning at birth, you help shape their networks of neurons.
Involving parents and caregivers long before a child starts school, considerably increases the child’s ability to learn and enjoy each school year. Learn how you can help every child thrive.
Brain research shows developing a child's network of neurons enables them to:
- Detect the different sounds in words (phonemic awareness).
- Recognize letters and develop strategies to figure out new words (decoding).
- Develop real-world understanding of what the words refer to (create contexts for understanding meaning).
- Build an oral and listening vocabulary (approximately 5,000 words by kindergarten).