Early childhood is a stage or period in human development. It generally includes toddlerhood and some time after that. During this age, children gain more independence from their parents as they gain more control over their own behavior and actions. Parents retain a great deal of control over the lives of early childhood children as they guide their child's development and learning.
The first five years of a child's life are important for laying the foundation for healthy physical and emotional adult life. During early childhood years, children learn how to express themselves and interact with others as they grow physically and mentally.
Some professionals believe that early childhood should be defined as the time between birth and age 3. Others define it as extending to age 8 or 9 because children at this age are still acquiring basic life skills. Most childhood development experts agree that the first three years of a child's life (birth to age 3) are critical to his or her future success. Physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development are all developing quickly during the early childhood years. The earliest years have a great deal of influence on how children develop later in life.
Adequate early childhood development helps children develop the skills needed to give them a head start in primary school, higher educational achievement, and economic independence. It is important that all children have equal opportunities for this time period to achieve these goals. Some of the factors that may impact an individual's ability to achieve these goals include social disadvantage, poor health, lack of parental support, disability, and family violence.