Human Development Perspective


The early years of human development establish the basic architecture and function
of the brain. Each subsequent stage of human development depends on the
preceding stage and builds the foundation for the years to come
Dr. Fraser Mustard

Studies in neuroscience in the last ten years have demonstrated how experience in early life affects brain development1.  The developing brain responds to each and every interaction and experience of daily life, and in doing so, the brain further develops. During the early years of life, brain development is both rapid and time-sensitive meaning that the development of a child’s abilities is maximized only during short windows of opportunity. That is why early child development fundamentally influences lifelong health, learning and behaviour. Supporting all children and their families in the early years creates the opportunity for equity from the start which across the life course means improved health and education outcomes regardless of gender, language, culture, religion, or socio-economic class.
Healthy child development is based on:

  • Guiding mothers through a healthy pregnancy, and providing excellent health promotion and care for infants and children
  • Supporting parents and caregivers to form a strong attachment to infants and young children by spending quality time and having meaningful  interactions that are stimulating and engaging of the senses such as playing, reading and talking
  • Facilitating opportunities for children to learn through play both independently and under the guidance of parents, caregivers, and professionals trained in early child development
  • Living in safe and stable communities where families feel supported and can easily access programs such as libraries, parenting centres, parks, nutrition, early intervention and referral programs, and early learning and care programs for their children

In the context of human development, a good start in life is essential and the early years are critical, but we recognize that all children require a continuum of support as they grow and develop across the life course.


1 Source McCain, M.N., Mustard, J.F. and Shanker, S.  Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action. Council for Early Child Development: Toronto. 2007





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