Early Childhood Development - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Early Childhood Development

The first six years of a child's life are extremely important to their development. Studies indicate that children who are nurtured and given positive attention during the early years are less likely to develop learning, behavioural, emotional, and health problems.

Facts and Stats

  • There is powerful new evidence from neuroscience that the early years of development from conception to age six, particularly for the first three years, set the base for competence and coping skills that affect learning, behaviour and health throughout life.
  • There is also increasing evidence that many of the risks for health problems later in life (e.g., high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, some mental health problems) are set by the conditions of early life from conception to age five.
  • Supportive initiatives for parents should begin as early as possible – from the time of conception – with programs targeting parent support and education.
  • Alberta’s children will have a healthier future if they have a healthier beginning.
  • There are nearly 270,000 children in Alberta of age six years and under.
  • The world wide incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is estimated at one to three cases per 1,000 births at a lifetime cost of $1.5 million for supports and services for each child.
  • At some point in their lives, 10 to 20 per cent of children face at-risk circumstances such as parental low income, low education, poor health, social isolation, and lack of supportive networks, and may need help to overcome these.
  • Two powerful forces are at work in the development of a child. Both interact with one another and influence the growth and well-being of a child right through to adulthood:
    • Nature, or the genetic programming that a child brings into the world;
    • Nurture, or the experiences each child has from conception through life.

Tips for Parents

Modified: 2014-05-26
PID: 15574