Early Child Development refers to the beginning phases of the human life course. For the South African National ECD Programme, early child development is defined at the period from conception to age 5 years, or when the child enters Grade R.
Early child development encompasses all aspects of the child’s maturation – including physical growth, language and cognitive development, emotional awareness and self-control, social abilities, sense of self and of themselves as part of a larger community. It is a period of extremely rapid growth in brain complexity, motor coordination, understanding of other human beings, emotional self-regulation, the ability to communicate, and a grasp of the fundamentals of logic and mathematics.
Investment in early childhood development is the most
powerful investment in human capital that a country can
make – with compounding returns