Young children thrive once they have secure, positive relationships with adults who are intimate the way to support their development and learning. The science of kid development and early learning makes clear the importance and complexity of working with young children from infancy through the first elementary years. Research during the past decade has revealed much about how children learn and develop.
Studies have shown that infancy may be a time when developmental changes are happening which will have profound and lasting consequences for a child’s future. While people have long debated whether “nature” or “nurture” plays the stronger role in child development, recent studies reveal the importance of how the 2 influence one another as a child develops: what a toddler experiences and is exposed to interacts together with his or her underlying biological makeup.
Research has also shown that far more goes on cognitively, socially, and emotionally in young children – including infants – than scientists or care and education professionals previously knew. Even in their earliest years, children are beginning to study their world in sophisticated ways in which aren’t always reflected in their outward behavior.
Learning and development for young children is both rapid and cumulative, continuously laying a foundation for later learning. These and related insights emerging from research have strong implications for settings where young children are cared for and educated. This booklet provides an summary of this research and its implications for what educators and other adults who work with children got to know and be ready to do in order to best support children’s healthy development.