Early childhood development

Early childhood development is a multi-sectoral issue and refers to children aged 0-8 years, or from birth until the commencement of primary school. It is an important time in a child’s life, so access to adequate nutrition, early stimulation, positive interaction with caregivers, play and learning opportunities and protection from violence and neglect is vitally important in order for children to develop their potential. This is a crucial time to ensure that children with disabilities access the necessary services, due to the rapid rate of growth, learning and development that occurs during a child's early years. The development achieved in this period provides a foundation for later learning, skill acquisition, social and emotional development and behaviour.

Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (2006) Index for inclusion: developing play, learning and participation in early years and childcare

This index provides resources to help facilitate inclusion, and the play, learning and participation of all children in early learning environments. It is useful for early childhood education implementers, however can also be used as standardised, guiding resource across a larger program. It was developed in the UK, however it may also be adapted for use in other contexts, including developing countries.

World Health Organization (WHO) (2012) Early childhood development and disability: a discussion paper

This resource provides a useful overview of the key points regarding early childhood development and disability, and the reasons why children with disabilities are often overlooked despite their added vulnerability. Included are broad recommendations aimed at improving the developmental outcomes, participation and protection of young children with disabilities, through multi-sectoral approaches, policy commitment and cohesion and partnership between government and non-government stakeholders, including UN agencies. It is useful for policy-makers and those planning and implementing programs.

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Picture of a mother from India holding her baby girl who has clubfeet. The baby has Ponseti boots on both of her feet.

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee, 2010

Amita* (5 months) from India was born with bilateral clubfoot. She began treatment using the Ponseti method and is now using Ponseti boots. (*Pseudonym used) Copyright: CBM/Bugbee