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Early Childhood Development (ECD)

Suggested media resources on the scientific basis of Early Childhood Development (ECD)

Meena Cabral de Mello
GFMER Coordinator of Early Childhood Development

Early Learning Brain Development and Lifelong Outcomes

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Harvard University, Center on the Developing Child, highlights the importance of early nurturing relationships and how they contribute to brain development in children. In order to form neuronal connections and build appropriate brain circuitry, children need to be immersed in enriching learning opportunities that allow them to explore. Exposure to risk factors in the first years of life such as living in poverty, single parent households, and maternal depression have dramatic outcomes in the health and psychological well-being of individuals later in their lives.


InBrief: The Science of ECD

Dr. Jack Shonkoff briefly addresses how early experiences at birth and before birth shape our learning capacities, behaviors, and physical and mental health. He delineates the “bottom-up” sequence of brain development and skill formation. The video also reviews the serve-and-return nature of children’s interactions with their adults and how this reciprocal relationship shapes brain architecture. Thus, he makes a compelling case on how cognitive development cannot be separated from emotional and social development.


Serve and Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry

This video is part of a three piece series titled “Three Core Concepts in Early Development”. This instalment depicts the importance of serve-and-return interactions and how this type of back and forth process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain, especially in the earliest of years.


Interview with Dr. Patrice Engle, Cal Poly State University

Dr. Engle explores factors such as child violence, parental and child stress, and the lack of understanding of the role of the parent and its impact on early childhood development. She emphasizes the need of special care for children exposed to increase risk.


How to Translate policy into action for children

Gordon Alexander, UNICEF Director—Innocenti Research Center, brings attention to the vulnerability of children as a population and the necessity for organizations, policy makers, and researchers to form partnerships and innovate together to improve the livelihood of children worldwide. He reviews 4 work areas where additional research is needed to inform global policy decisions.


Interview with Dr. James Heckman: Podcast

Dr. James Heckman addresses why early childhood development must be featured prominently in today’s global development agenda. In his interview, Dr. Heckman calls for a radical change in how governments and policy makers view human development and highlights the connections between health, education, cognition and social skills. He goes on to urges individuals to deconstruct traditional disciplinary barriers and use a multidisciplinary approach to tackling the disparities that affect early childhood development.



Should new research on under-fives reshape our approach to development?

Gordon Alexander, Director of the Office of Research at UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre, reports in The Guardian.



The Innocenti Debate: Why hasn't the world embraced ECD?

A debate with Nobel Laureate Prof. J. Heckman, the Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, Dr. R. Horton, and the Chief of UNICEF's ECD Unit, Dr. N. Ulkuer.


Achieving Equity through Early Childhood Development

James Elder discusses compelling evidence that has emerged in the last decade on the importance and impact of a child's early years on his or her entire future.


Early Childhood Development (ECD)