Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development

Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development

The “Five Numbers to Remember” link takes readers to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child’s website.  The Center’s mission is to leverage the rapidly growing knowledge about the developing brain and human genome, which tells us that early experiences are built into our bodies and that early childhood is a time of both great promise and considerable risk, in order to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity.  

By carefully and seriously considering the “Five Numbers to Remember,” the Center on the Developing Child explains what the five numbers tell us:

  1. Getting things right the first time is easier and more effective than trying to fix them later.
  2. Early childhood matters because experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on later learning, behavior, and health.
  3. Highly specialized interventions are needed as early as possible for children experiencing toxic stress.
  4. Early life experiences actually get under the skin and into the body, with lifelong effects on adult physical and mental health.
  5. All of society benefits from investments in early childhood programs.

Here are the Five Numbers the faculty and staff of the Center ask us to remember:

  1. There are 700 new neuronal connections per second in a baby’s brain in the first few years of life.
  2. Disparities in the vocabularies of children first appear at 18 months, based on whether they were born into a family with high education and income or low education and income. By age 3, children with college-educated parents or primary caregivers had vocabularies 2 to 3 times larger than those whose parents had not completed high school.
  3. There is a 90 – 100% chance of developmental delays when children experience 6-7 specific risk factors in early childhood.
  4. Adults who recall having 7-8 serious adverse experiences in childhood are 3 times more likely to have cardiovascular disease as an adult.
  5. There is a $4 – $9 return for every dollar invested in early childhood programs for low income children.
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