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Month of the Young Child® Focus Weeks

Early Years Are Learning Years™…Make Them Count!

Children’s early years are the foundation for growth and development. Children are constantly developing and learning. What they are learning depends on their social-emotional health, physical health, relationships, and daily interactions and experiences. The MOYC® 2016 Focus Weeks highlight children’s development.

Week 1 April 1 – 9 Physical Development
Proper nutrition and rest, opportunities to explore in safe, supportive environments, sound health practices, and nurturing, responsive relationships help ensure children’s physical development. Children vary in their physical abilities at different ages; different parts of the body grow at different rates. Children need to move and be active in many different ways to reach their full physical development.
  • Healthy babies should sleep on their backs.
  • Well-balanced meals support growth and development.
  • Exercise and fresh air enhance well-being.
  • Safe, secure environments support exploration which helps develop muscles and motor skills.

Week 2 April 10 – 16 Social Development

Social development strongly influences interpersonal relations, behavior and learning. The early childhood years are a critical period for the development of social skills. Early interactions and how we relate and respond directly affect the way the brain is ‘wired’; children learn in the context of important relationships.

  • Encourage children to understand and care about the feelings of others
  • Focus on the positive; thank children for caring, cooperating and helping
  • Demonstrate pro-social problem-solving skills
  • Help children understand and follow rules and routines

Week 3 April 17 – 23 Emotional Development

Children with a healthy sense of self-esteem feel that the important adults in their loves love them, accept them, and would go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being. Respond lovingly – smile, hold, cuddle – to help build trusting relationships. The healthier children’s early experiences are, the more apt they are to enter school with a strong foundation of emotional and social skills.

  • Talk with and listen to children with genuine interest and respect.
  • Encourage children to experience, manage and express the full range of positive and negative emotions.
  • Help children develop close, satisfying relationships with other children and with adults.
  • Support children in the active exploration of their environments.

Week 4 April 24 – 30 Cognitive Development

Brain development research affirms what parents and teachers have known for years, 1) good prenatal care, 2) warm and loving attachments between young children and adults and 3) positive stimulation from the time of birth makes a difference in children’s development for a lifetime. Early experiences contribute significantly to the structure of the brain. The quality, quantity and consistency of stimulation determines how the brain connects and functions; this is true for cognitive and emotional development, and the effect is lifelong.

  • Experience wires the brain; repetition strengthens the wiring.
  • The sense of touch helps children to ground abstract ideas in concrete experiences.
  • When children exercise, they build muscles and boost brainpower.
  • Preschoolers need 9-10 hours of sleep each day. During sleep, the brain processes the day’s information, strengthening memories and rehearsing tasks.