Early childhood development (ECD) has become a priority for research, policy and programming, at national and global level, with increasing recognition of the interconnections between a nation’s development goals and the quality of services for all young girls and boys, and their families. The term ‘ECD’ is increasingly being used to reflect the evidence that young children’s survival, health, care and learning involves interconnected and dynamic growth processes from well before the infant is born through into their early school years.
ECD encompasses several quite distinct early developmental phases. In this Topic Guide we distinguish the period ‘from conception to birth’ from ‘birth to 2 years’, followed by the ‘preschool years’ and the ‘early school years’. These are not precise phases. They are shaped by cultural beliefs and institutional structures, as well as development changes in children’s capacities, vulnerabilities and emerging autonomy; their needs for care, ways of communicating, playing and learning; as well as the patterns of their daily lives in modern societies, including access to ECD services and schools.
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May 30th, 2015
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