The Importance of Early Childhood Development
Neurological research shows that the early years play a key role in children’s brain development.
September 7, 2018 - El Salvador
According to UNICEF, “Many children do not reach their full human potential because of their families’ income status, geographic location, ethnicity, disability, religion or sexual orientation. They do not receive adequate nutrition, care and opportunities to learn. These children and their families can be helped. It is their right to develop as well as to survive.”**
At NPH El Salvador, we recognize the importance of helping others; it is part of our mission. We value the lives of children, and its shows in our programs. One such program is our Centro de Atención Infantil (CAI) (Early Childhood Stimulation Center), which currently serves 73 children.
Sophia* is one of our treasures - a young girl who is almost two years old. She is part of the “Early Childhood Development” class of our CAI, along with six other children. Sophia started to attend CAI in January of 2018, where Lilian, her teacher, met her and begin a beautiful relationship with her. Sophia lives with her grandmother, two aunts, two uncles, and two cousins in a humble house located in the community outside our home. Her grandmother, Elsa, is a widow and is in charge of Sophia and her other grandsons, as well as her own sons and daughters. Elsa decided to take advantage of the opportunity NPH was offering and decided to send her two grandsons Sophia and Alexis* to CAI. Sophia is the youngest of the family and has had developmental problems since she was born.
“I remember the first day of classes this year; Sophia cried the whole morning. She seemed upset about something, but I knew it would take some time for her to adapt herself to the new everyday life.” Says Lilian, who then continues: “Little by little, Sophia started to feel more comfortable in the class. She met her other classmates and became friends with them. When she came, it was very noticeable how difficult basic activities were for her. For example, she didn’t walk by herself and she was not able to hold things in her little hands. The activities we carry out in this class are aimed at helping children develop their abilities through games. So with the passing of time, I noticed how much Sophia has improved, not only physically, but also socially. She is now able to walk, run, play with cubes, and use a spoon, among other activities.” Lilian adds, “Having access to early childhood development is extremely important for children, because they learn to develop their mobility, and in this way, they cultivate abilities that will be helpful for their future lives.”
As stated by UNICEF, “Good nutrition and health and consistent loving care and encouragement to learn in the early years of life help children to do better at school, be healthier, have higher earnings and participate more in society. This is especially important for children in poverty. A good foundation in the early years makes a difference through adulthood and even gives the next generation a better start. Educated and healthy people participate in, and contribute to, the financial and social wealth of their societies.”**
The kids attending our CAI program receive an essential and impact for education. They get two meals –breakfast and lunch- and two snacks a day; they have access to a yearly check-up at our clinic, and moreover, they learn. Elsa states, “I have noticed a great change in Sophia. She is happier now and I can see she socializes easily. When I take her to NPH, I notice how much she loves her teacher because she runs to hug her. I am very thankful for the opportunity my grandsons have to attend CAI and receive so many benefits.”
“The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why understanding the need to invest in very young children is so important, so as to maximize their future well-being.”*** It is unfortunate that most children living in poor conditions in our country do not have access to education in general, and considering Early Childhood Development is even impossible for them. In this sense, NPH El Salvador will continue serving children in this area because it is the in little details where the difference is made, and we know our work helps our children move towards bright futures.
*Names changed for privacy reasons.
** Source: https://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/index_40748.html
*** Importance of early childhood development: Synthesis. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/importance-early-childhood-development/synthesis. Updated March 2011. Accessed June 7, 2018.