Early Childhood Development is often defined as the stages of mental, physical and social development that happen during a child’s first five years of life. In fact, a child’s capacity to learn, create, love and trust are all determined during this time. New research shows the link between proper care during a child’s early years and their future success is even greater than previously thought. Children with a good start are less likely to fall behind in school and get in trouble with the law. As adults, they’re less likely to depend on social services, live in poverty, be homeless or have issues with addictions.

This is just part of the reason why ECD is a priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. And it’s the reason why the GNWT wants to spread awareness about the simple things parents, grandparents and caregivers can do to help make sure every child has the best possible start.

Simple actions help development

Although the human brain is complicated, the things parents and caregivers can do to help a child’s brain develop are simple. Activities such as regularly playing and talking with a child, as well as reading to them, all make a big difference.

While the keys to development might be simple, raising a child remains a tough job. And sometimes it’s made even harder because of factors beyond a parent or caregiver’s control. Over-crowded housing conditions, poverty and addictions or mental health issues can all make life more stressful and, in turn, parenting more difficult. And while we can’t totally solve these issues through ECD programming, it’s important to acknowledge them.