Early Childhood Experiences, Lifelong Health and Learning and Brain Development

Early childhood development and early childhood education are gaining importance in Bangladesh. Photo source: Global Action Nepal
Early childhood development and early childhood education are gaining importance in Bangladesh. Photo source: Global Action Nepal
Ratan Kumar Sarkar
Written by Ratan Kumar Sarkar

This is obviously a good sign that early childhood development and early childhood education are gaining importance in Bangladesh in recent years. One year of pre-schooling in every primary school has been initiated, which is contributing to SDG-4.

Internationally, pre-schooling starts with toddlers that are from an age cohort of three years. Making parity with international program practice, two-year pre-schooling is also going to be implemented from January 2023 in the pilot phase, which will be a commendable endeavour. So, as in policy, Bangladesh is on the way to reaching international standards.

Nevertheless, it is far beyond practice, especially in parent perception. The science of early childhood development, even the primary notion, is also unknown to many parents, even to literate people. Nevertheless, why early child development is crucial and how it helps lifelong learning and health should be known to all and should be in practice. Let us have a look at what the Harvard University Document says.

Brain development and early childhood development

Evidence-based proof has been grasped that the early childhood brain development story has been a powerful influence on the growth, investments, and programs to promote early learning and school readiness. However, it is notable that the brain does not exist by itself. An effective brain connection to the rest of the body is critically important.

Early childhood experiences and much about lifelong physical and mental health are the arches about early learning and readiness of the students in the school. Fundamentally, all biological systems remain highly interconnected, and all systems are prime to adapt to everyday environmental technologies.

Every cell in the body becomes alert and works overtime when we are stressed. The brain is the mastic control system that checks well and then controls and manages the response of the diverse systems. It sends signals to the cardiovascular system to increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Being alert signals are picked up by the metabolic system to increase the availability of blood sugar to convey more energy storage for the immune system to be activated.

Childhood is significant as a child’s experiences during the earliest years of life have a lasting impact on the architecture of the developing brain. Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experience shapes the progression that determines whether a child’s brain will provide a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behaviour, and health.

During this important period of brain development, billions of brain cells called neurons send electrical signals to communicate with each other. These communications form circuits that become the basic foundation of brain architecture. Circuits and connections proliferate at a rapid pace and are reinforced through repeated use.

Our experiences and environment dictate which circuits and connections get more use. This repetition of use is imperative as connections that are used grow more substantial and more permanent for using additional. Meanwhile, connections that are less used are fed away through a process called pruning. Well-used circuits create lightning-fast pathways for neural signals to travel across regions of the brain.

Simple circuits form first, providing a foundation for more complex circuits to build on later. Through this process, neurons form intense circuits and connections for emotions, motor skills behavioural control, logic language, and memory during the early critical period of development. With repeated use, these circuits become more efficient and connect to other areas of the brain more rapidly.

While they originate in specific areas of the brain, the circuits are interconnected. The network of connections is essential because we cannot have one type of skill without others to support it. Like building a house, everything is connected, and what comes first forms a foundation for all that comes later (Centre on the developing child, Harvard University).

Knowledge-based society and early childhood development

With some progress in economic and social indicators, new debates and discussions have been initiated in society. Building a knowledge-based society is being pronounced in civil society, even from the leading position of the government.

Smart Bangladesh by 2041 is a new slogan from the government end. All those are also virtuous signs of taking Bangladesh to boost up. But how can we expedite building a smart generation and knowledge-based society? How our thinking ability, creativity, and innovations could be promoted? The story of brain development is relevant to answer this question.

Now, we can explore some facts that can convey the instances of wisdom. The indicators or parameters of a knowledge-based society may also bring some elaborate discussion and debate, but we can see it from a very simple perspective. So far, decisions derived from the analysis in the post-industrial countries, around 70- 80% of growth generated by new knowledge.

And thus, knowledge has become the primary origin of benefit, honour, and power. Among the various signs and instances, we can go through one insignia that may focus the wisdom, creativity, and innovation. This may be the number of Nobel laureates, which is honourable, precious, and a symbol of dignity all over our planet.

Let’s have a look at the record.

CountryPopulation (2023)Number of Nobel Laureates
United Kingdom67,886,011137
United States331,002,651403

The matrix, as mentioned above, has been arranged based on population, from small to large. The matrix shows that the population of three countries, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungry, are below one crore. Still, they achieved a significant number of Nobel Prizes 27, 23, and 13, respectively.

More or less the same story for many other European countries. On the contrary, Bangladesh and Pakistan possess together a population of around 10-15 European countries but obtained only three prizes. The scenario may reflect the innovations and practice of knowledge or the creation of new knowledge in their society. 

What should we do?

Again, the story of brain development is imperative and can be deliberated repeatedly. The science of early childhood development should be familiar and known to all, especially to the parents. Time is crucial, right things should be done at the right time. Expecting a smart, creative, and productive generation, we must know early childhood development science and practice it overwhelmingly.

About the author

Ratan Kumar Sarkar

Ratan Kumar Sarkar

Ratan Kumar Sarkar works as a Program Specialist in the BRAC Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh.

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