By Carla Olson, The Parenting Cottage
A child’s developmental journey begins before birth when moms receive early prenatal care and achieve a full 39-week pregnancy. The last weeks of which are all about brain development. That is every child’s best opportunity to start life healthy.
Birth to kindergarten entry — a period of a little more than 1,800 days. In that short period, a child will undergo the most dramatic period of learning and development in their lifetime. By age 3, 80% of the architecture of a child’s brain for a lifetime of learning will be formed. By age 4, language development, the brain’s toolkit for learning, memory, and cognition should be well on its way. Children are then able to recognize and understand that letters form words and words forms sentences, the precursor to learning to read. Language development (which begins in infancy and grows with the child), significantly affects school readiness and achievement in both kindergarten and 1st grade.
By 3rd grade, reading and more importantly reading for comprehension will be well developed. A child not reading at grade level by 3rd grade may experience difficulties catching up with peers. Reading for understanding is needed in every area from math to electives. More importantly, it is needed throughout life.
All of these key elements contribute to the Parenting Cottage’s laser focus on helping to ensure that every child regardless of their economic background or their family’s challenges has the opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe and healthy home environment. We want all children to have an opportunity to use those first 1,800 days to the fullest by helping parents become their child’s first teacher. It is important to link parents to community resources like United Way’s Summer Reading Calendar to provide a “hand-up” to meet the challenges and to allow parents to more fully focus on their child’s developmental needs.
A community that values and prioritizes the first 1,800 days of each child’s life builds a strong community by building strong families. That investment pays dividends for all.