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2CONTENTSAcronyms....................................................................................................................................31Introduction......................................................................................................................42What does early childhood mean?...................................................................................43What do early childhood education, development and care mean?...............................64What are the different stages of early childhood?...........................................................85What are the benefits of early childhood development?..............................................206ECD and the early years of primary school.....................................................................227What are the key issues in relation to expanding and improving ECD?.........................248Test your knowledge.......................................................................................................31References and links.................................................................................................................35
3ACRONYMSANDKA New Day for KidsARNECAsia-Pacific Regional Network on Early ChildhoodECCEearly childhood care and educationECDearly childhood developmentECEearly childhood educationECECearly childhood education and careECEDearly childhood education and developmentEGRAEarly Grades Reading AssessmentGERGross Enrolment RatioPEARLPacific Early Age Reading and LearningSNAPSpecial Needs Action Pack for Struggling Readers Project (Sri Lanka)TLSDFThailand Life Skills Development FoundationUNICEFUnited Nations Children’s Fund
41INTRODUCTIONThe purpose of this module is to provide foundation level introductory information aboutthe importance and scope of early childhood development. It provides a foundation toengage with this topic and to apply advice from staff with operational or expert levels ofknowledge in education. On successful completion you will gain the ability to applypractical knowledge of early childhood development to make valuable contributions to thefield.2WHAT DOES EARLY CHILDHOODMEAN?Defining early childhoodEarly childhood is defined as the period of human development from conception (whenpregnancy starts) through the transition to the early years of primary school (typically endsat age 8 or 9). This definition is reflected in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, theearly childhood literature, and in government policies.There are sensitive stages of development during early childhood. During the prenatalperiod, from conception through pregnancy, the health and nutrition of the mothercritically determines foetal development. Safe childbirth, infant nutrition, safety andhealth, cognitive stimulation, nutritious foods and safety for exploring toddlers, andsuccessful transitions from the home (e.g. to a playgroup or pre-school) are all criticalaspects of early childhood development and set the stage for primary school entry. Earlychildhood development, in other words, is a critical period for the development of thecapabilities that shape every element of a person’s life.Source: Rebello Britto, 2012, Key to Equality: Early Childhood Development, The Consultative Group on EarlyChildhood Care and Development Task Force for the Post 2015 Development Agenda.Is it important to invest in early childhood development?There is a wealth of evidence showing that investment in early childhood is essential notonly for the well-being of young children and their families, but also for the greater goodof society as a whole. Many of the returns on investment in early childhood are related tothe public good in the form of social, economic, and educational benefits. Paying attentionto this period of life is especially important among marginalized and disadvantagedpopulation groups, in any country. There is evidence that children from vulnerablebackgrounds and children with disabilities benefit proportionally more than their moreadvantaged or non-disabled peers. Early childhood programs can therefore narrow and

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