WHY INVEST IN EARLY CHILDHOOD?
4.4 children are born every second in the world
5 Fundamental research shows that it is in the first 5 years of life that the roots of a life that is socially and economically fulfilling and participatory are put down.
85% of cerebral maturation…happens during these years
With 700 to 1,000 new neural connections forged per second
And yet…in France
1 to 2 children die each day from abuse
1 in 5 children lives below the poverty line
Reasons related to the development of the child
- The first years of life are fundamental for all children
- They allow you to gradually establish affective, social, emotional, cognitive, motor and cerebral maturity, through:
- the quality of a child’s attachment and relationship with caregivers, and
- the quality of the situations lived in everyday life
Right from birth, interaction with the environment begins to sculpt a sort of cerebral, sensory, emotional and cognitive “hard drive” that is unique to each child.
A STRONG LINK BETWEEN ATTACHMENT AND EXPERIENCE
The orbitofrontal cortex (the part of the brain involved in the regulation of emotions, ethics, and decision-making) decreases in volume in the child who suffers a lack of affective attachment, the absence of empathy, or emotional abuse.
Ref: Laura Van Harmelen, Dutch researcher
A STRONG LINK BETWEEN POVERTY IN ALL ITS DIMENSIONS AND CORTISOL LEVELS
Vulnerable children living in situations of quasi-permanent stress have very high cortisol levels, which directly harm their cognitive and decision-making abilities. Poor regulation of the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) affects brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex which is the seat of learning and memory.
Ref: Esther Duflo, French economist at MIT
Reasons related to the impact of investment on equality of opportunity
Economists are interested in early childhood, measuring the impact of the quality of care for young children on the economy of a country
“Investing in early childhood is the best guarantee for the future”
(James Heckman and Dimitri Masterov, 2007, Nobel prize)
Diagram reference: blogs.edweek.org
The more we invest early, the greater the effectiveness of the investment on children’s trajectories
On average: 1€ invested in early childhood = a savings of €10
Investing in early childhood, is the key to equality of opportunity.
We mustn’t wait until schooling starts to take action!
Reasons related to the need for knowledge sharing by parents and professionals
Parents are urgently seeking parenting advice and guidance (Enquiry of the High Council of the Family, June 9, 2016)
This enquiry demonstrates:
- that child-rearing is a daily concern, with 77% of parents stating that they struggle with the behaviour of their children,
- and that if they knew of any offers of support, they would massively participate, with a heavy preference for those that involve parent-child activities, guided by professionals.
HOW CAN WE BETTER RESPOND TO THE NEW EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES OF OUR SOCIETY AND MAKE EARLY CHILDHOOD A PRIORITY IN ORDER TO REDUCE INEQUALITIES?
Act early following a 3rd educational path promoting an education that is responsible, compassionate, and structuring.
Responsible: focussed on raising awareness with educators and parents with respect to their essential role in the development of every child, and helping each child to take his or her place in society with an attitude of self-respect and respect for others
Compassionate: supportive of the natural empathy of the child in order to foster positive and effective cooperation with peers, and encouraging of compassion in parents and professionals
Structuring : helping children to develop confidently, in a secure environment, guided by their family, by the professionals surrounding them, and by the community.
Traditional child-rearing techniques, based on punishments often imposed without explanation, may lead to a lack of autonomy and self-confidence. On the other hand, a laissez-faire child-rearing approach that gives children too much freedom can lead to poor management of frustration and may cause feelings of insecurity.
Together, let us mobilize our collective intelligence, across all divisions, as child-rearing is a concern of us all..
Respect for the rights of the child and the prevention of violence against children is the bedrock on which all education must be based, the fundamentals upon which we can build trust and nurture a constructive relationship with children.
Make the fight against child poverty a national priority..
THE 3RD EDUCATIONAL PATH TOWARD AN EDUCATION THAT IS RESPONSIBLE, COMPASSIONATE, AND STRUCTURING
Great progress internationally in neuroscience and epigenetics has confirmed that the environment in which children, live from conception to the end of their lives, has a daily impact and is fundamental to their development.
Sharing knowledge means allowing everyone to contribute.
Our responsibility is to build a better world for future generations, a more just and equitable society..
We all have a common responsibility: to act early and invest in early childhood. In our time, the fields of neuroscience, la psychology and education are making new discoveries every day about the brain development of children.
These advances allow us to:
- Adjust our daily child-rearing attitudes, or even propose a new approach that is more suitable and fulfilling,
- Act to prevent the mistreatment of children,
- Develop the natural abilities of children, both social (empathy, communication and positive interactions with others) as well as personal,
- To accompany all professionals, parents and families.
Reflect together with an approach that utilises our collective intelligence
Encourage an education that is compassionate, structuring and responsible
Provide tools that are accessible to all
How can we better respond to the new educational challenges of our society and make early childhood a priority in order to reduce inequalities?
The fight against poverty must fall within the scope of a logic of social investment and equality of opportunity, but also because poverty particularly affects these groups, this approach takes as its starting point the situation of children and young people.
Esther Duflo – Terra Nova
“If a country wants to improve the average level of academic achievement, it must address the underlying inequalities that generate a social gradient that is more marked in terms of school success,” in R. Wilkinson and K. Pickett in “Why equality is better for everyone”.
TO INFLUENCERS OF PUBLIC POLICY, WE WISH TO REMIND YOU THAT…
We are a large community of more than 500,000 concerned professionals and parents in need of a way of mobilizing ourselves to confront these figures:
- In France, 1 in 5 children lives below the poverty line = 3 million children.
- 10 million people are affected by the area of early childhood (parents/professionals/children) = 1/6 of the French population.
- 2 out of 5 parents find it difficult to assume their parenting role and more than half would like some parenting support.
- France is the country that has the most minors in the European Union.
The importance of acting early and facilitating access to quality services for all our children, regardless of their circumstances.
That quality emerges from the establishment of policies that are designed to give providers of early childhood services the means:
- To work with parents so that they become full stakeholders in any educational project;
- To reach out to our the most vulnerable families;
- To provide quality services
TO MANAGERS OF CHILDCARE FACILITIES
In order for nurturing education to become ever more present within childcare centres, let us remember…
That the decision about the implementation of the services offered must be inspired by evidence-based best practices.
That in-service training of early childhood professionals is not a luxury, but a necessity, and that AN INVESTMENT IN THIS REGARD HAS A DIRECT IMPACT ON THE QUALITY AND THE WELL – BEING OF ALL..
Granting a time for reflection within educational teams encourages a reflective approach and consistency of actions.
That for positive changes to last, the implementation of a continuous improvement approach is a condition for success.
TO EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFESSIONALS
Let us remember that we need to say…
- Thank you, together with parents, we are the first actors of change who, day-to-day, good weather or bad, always keep children at the heart of our actions.
- Let us not forget, however, to take care of ourselves, to ask for help while trying to leave aside the fear of being judged, because the help received will allow us the healthy distance that will have a positive impact on the well-being of children: this is also a guarantee of quality.
- That our daily work is essential to sustaining the harmonious development of our little ones.
- It is through our interventions that every day our children will grow up in environments that are healthy, safe, and stimulating. Let us never lose sight of the importance of keeping fun activities and learning opportunities that are focussed on what interests our children front and centre … in a climate of nurturing instruction.
We want to tell ourselves again…
- Bravo! Being a parent is definitely the most beautiful of roles, but yes, oh how demanding. We daily manage multiple calendars, we have to deal with multiple stressful situations yet manage all the same to provide a warm presence for our children, between the obstacles to work around, the meals to be prepared, tearful cries to be consoled, daily crises to be soothed, and, and, and…
- Let us never forget that we are the most important models for our children, that nothing is more important to them than the time we spend with them. In this regard, quality definitely has a greater impact than quantity. Never will a screen, as attractive as it may be, be able to substitute for this quality time with us.
We would like to say…
- You are our most precious jewels. All our well-being comes through yours.
- We are committed to listening to you, adapting our posture to your height in order to understand better how you see and understand the world.
- We will never cease re-examining our practices in the light of the most up-to-date knowledge and we accept that we must perpetually question ourselves.