The experiences of the 8 first years of life are very critical for the growth and outlook of children as they prepare for adulthood.
This is when they undergo rapid mental and physical growth and are taking in everything they experience in the environment.
The 0 – 8 are cornerstone years designed to shape them for better or poor health, good or bad manners, and optimal or poor learning abilities.
According to the US CDC
Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success.
When parents miss out on investing in children the right way during the early childhood years, all the wrong things can happen:
Children may lag behind in learning and social skills, lack empathy, disregard human life, and ultimately become bad parents.
So, what happens in the eight first years of life?
1. Child brain grows by over 90 percent before 8
Children are born with ‘empty’ brains and ready to learn new things from the moment they pop out of the womb. Everything hinges on the readiness of parents and caregivers to exploit the virgin brain.
When does it start?
Brain development starts way before birth, and during conception. Following birth, however, its growth goes a notch higher.
At birth, the brain of the child only weighs 370 grams, but expands at an average of 1 percent every day, up to the third month. By now, the volume of the brain is almost 65 percent of what it should be, when fully mature.
The brain is actually over 90 percent in volume when a child makes eight years.
Why the rapid growth?
Well, the brain goes through accelerated development during the early years because it is preparing the child for future health, behavior and of course learning.
Early brain development is the foundation of human adaptability and resilience, but these qualities come at a price. Because experiences have such a great potential to affect brain development, children are especially vulnerable to persistent negative influences during this period. On the other hand, these early years are a window of opportunity for parents, caregivers, and communities: positive early experiences have a huge effect on children’s chances for achievement, success, and happiness.http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/why-0-3/baby-and-brain
Maximizing, optimizing, and making full use of the brain during these first early years is extremely crucial in preparing for alertness during adulthood.
2. Executive functioning skills peak at 3 to 5 years
Executive functioning skills entail mental readiness in children and adults to positively control their actions, emotions, and thoughts. They entail memory sets of skills everyone needs to plan and achieve goals, have self-control, follow instructions, multitask, prioritize tasks, etc.
The skills above are critical for learning and overall development, and therefore enablers of positive behavior and positive life-choices for the good of the family and the community.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, executive function skills are not inborn, but learned. Through their actions and responses, parents and caregivers make it possible for children to learn these skills.
According to Harvard University Centre on the Developing Child,
Adults set up the framework for children to learn and practice these skills over time by establishing routines, breaking big tasks into smaller chunks, and encouraging games that promote imagination, role playing, following rules, and controlling impulses.
Executive functioning skill acquisition is developed as early as 3 years and is cemented rapidly right up to the 5th year. Whereas, these skill sets are developed even further through the adolescent years and after, their implementation is extremely important early in life.
What the above observations mean to parents
Children do not have a repeat opportunity to experience the 8 first years of life. Everything must be done right this early if they are to have good health, learn better, become productive, and of course, develop appropriate behavioral traits.
A well-developed brain and executive functioning skills prepare them for the tough times ahead, both in their private and productive lives.
A number of factors will greatly influence how children maximize these wonderful 8 years in order to be happy and achieve better goals in later life:
1. Bonding with parents, family & the community
The precense of love, care, and happiness or lack of them matter a lot in early childhood development. A child that is happy, loved and receives optimal care will evolve into a happy, loving, and caring adult.
A close relationship between the parents and the child is extremely important to ensure excellent health, behavior, and learning.
Children have different personalities and respond differently to social and emotional demands. Parents, caregivers, and the community must understand these and train children accordingly.
Good food will prepare your child for a healthy body and mental state and therefore healthy adulthood. A preference for nutritious food types rich in useful minerals should be preferred over junk food.
3. Sufficient sleep
Sleep is extremely important in shaping the lives of children into healthy adults. Upwards of 8 hours of sleep (at night) is recommended, while the use of technology should be limited in the bedroom. Actually, smartphones and gaming consoles should not be kept in the bedroom – at all.
4. Healthy environment
Different environments expose children to positive and negative experiences. The crummy and crowded environment can teach and yet, spoil children. They need room to play, so as not to remain sedentary behind computers and gaming consoles. The outdoors is an excellent environment for children to learn a lot, and stay healthy.
5. Exposure to toxins, infections and EMF
Toxins, sicknesses, and EMF are all contributing factors to bad health and poor productivity. children should live and play in safe environments, and use technology safely to avoid related side effects. Unmetered use and exposure to technology devices make its users less productive and thoughtful of others.
6. Physical well-being
Physical wellbeing is very instrumental in shaping brain development and executive functioning skills. Medium-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is known to increase blood flow to the brain, to facilitate the supply of much-needed oxygen and nutrients. These are invaluable in boosting the growth of the brain while improving memory and mental wellness, which are at the center of executive functioning skills.
In conclusion, adults are made during the 8 first years of life
By most conventional standards, adulthood is achieved by the time a child is eighteen years. But science begs to disagree a little by pushing this age further up to 25 and 28. And so do others. But again you are who you are because of the complete mechanism that helped bring you up in the eight first years of life.