Definition: Early childhood development (ECD) is described by the Children’s Act as the processes of emotional, cognitive, sensory, spiritual, moral, physical, social and communication development of children from birth to school-going age.

Newer approaches to ECD focus on holistic development, rather than the belief that there is only one system of teaching that should be applied to all growing and developing children.

Holistic health addresses various important developmental milestones in addition to academic progress and involves active participation of a child’s parents, guardians and caregivers.

What’s unique about addressing a child’s holistic health through early childhood education is that by doing so, you encourage the child to develop his or her own unique personality, interests and character.

Early childhood development - Preschool in Cape Town

Early Childhood Development

Early childhood development addresses social, interpersonal and emotional intelligence in your child. It encourages creative expression and your child’s ability to manage his or her feelings.

Furthermore, communication and listening skills are nurtured which plays a crucial role in your child’s ability to develop healthy relationships.

The importance of diet

As much as genetics and environment play a role in healthy childhood development, so does your child’s nutrition.

However, nutrition is often a widely neglected field of overall development despite research showing how healthy eating forms a foundation for many developmental milestones as well as future academic performance.

The following describes what a healthy diet does for your child:

  • Enhances brain development – the brain develops at a rapid rate during the first few years of a child’s life. In order for it to develop properly, it requires a large amount of nutrients. Failure to provide a developing brain with the nutrition it requires can result in permanent issues such as learning disabilities as well as behavioural issues.
  • Facilitates healthy choices overall – by teaching your child the importance of a healthy diet and how it benefits them also teaches them how to make positive choices in other areas of their lives.
  • Prevents childhood obesity – a diet consisting of a high intake of sugar and other processed foods has long lasting effects on your child’s overall health. Not only does it promote childhood obesity but also the early onset of diabetes and other inflammatory conditions such as eczema and asthma.
  • Promotes optimal growth – the body develops at a considerable rate from birth right through to puberty. Without the right amount of nutrients, your child’s muscular skeletal system may not adequately develop which can cause physical limitations later on in life.

The importance of exercise

The benefits of physical activity and exercise are far-reaching and address the long-term physical and psychological well-being of your child.

  • Promotes motor skills – including hand-eye coordination, reflex actions and balance. These motor skills can positively influence your child’s ability to play and exceed in athletic activities.
  • Develops strength – with an increase in muscular and bone strength, the risk of sport related injury is dramatically decreased.
  • Minimises Body Fat – with consistent physical activity, your child’s overall body weight is kept at a healthy level which minimises their risk of developing heart and metabolic diseases.
  • Decreases anxiety – the brain is directly influenced by physical activity and studies show that children who exercise are less likely to experience anxiety or depression in early or late stages of life.
  • Increases concentration – healthy cognitive function is directly related to physical exercise which is known to release endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for many positive physiological responses, including mental focus.
  • Self-esteem is enhanced – with a healthy body and mind your child will feel confident in their own abilities as well as in their own bodies. Self-esteem plays a vital role in emotional intelligence and social skills.

The importance of limiting screen time

Whether or not screen-time is good for a developing child tends to be a controversial topic and is usually quite subjective.

However, too much of anything is never good and this is especially true when it comes to your child’s digital exposure and Cellphone usage.

Moderation is absolutely key and what you allow your child to be exposed to during their screen time is an equally important part of this conversation.

Exposure to social media can negatively influence your child’s self-perception and also exposes them to cyber-bullying which has extremely detrimental effects on their psyche.

Furthermore, the following points highlight why too much screen time is bad for your child:

  • Social and communication skills are weakened – staring at a screen creates a barrier between your child and his or her environment, thereby minimising their one-on-one human interaction. Less interaction with the environment reduces overall social skills.
  • Commonly associated with hyperactivity – studies have shown that the general violent content of cartoons as well as the fast pace at which images are displayed on screen have a direct influence on a child’s ability to process real-time activities. Real-time activities progress at a much slower rate than scenes on a television, therefore your child develops an inability to maintain a steady pace in their day-today lives.
  • Sleep-deprivation and weight-gain – the more time your child spends in front of the computer or television, the less time they spend outdoors engaging in physical activity. This causes on-going weight problems. Furthermore, their sleep-wake cycle is affected by too much screen-time. This is because the brain remains active even after the device has been switched off.

Kay-Dee Educare Centre Mowbray – Holistic Health for Your Child

Following a holistic approach to your child’s development is highly beneficial both now and later in life.

Teaching your child the importance of exercise, a healthy diet, spending more time outdoors as well as reduced screen time will pave the way for healthy development in all areas of your child's life which will carry them into adulthood.

Our Educare Centre adopts a holistic approach when addressing early childhood development and facilitates physical, educational and emotional stimulation.

Contact us for more information about our creche/daycare or educare preschool centre.