Could the science of early childhood be taught in schools?

10 January 2022

Nearly 4000 11-to 14-year-olds across the UK took part in a project of special science lessons that taught the importance of brain development during early childhood.

Just one in four adults recognise the importance of the first five years of life for providing lifelong health and happiness.

The Oxford University SEEN project (Secondary Education around Early Neurodevelopment), in partnership with Kindred2, seeks to develop and pilot curricula for Key Stage 3 pupils on the importance of this stage of life.

An evaluation after three lessons found that 86% of children could give a practical example of what they could do to maximise a child’s development through everyday activities or play.

More than 90% knew how a caregiver should speak to a baby to promote their language development, and 80% understood that a child’s environment affects their development.

More than 40 teachers from the 21 schools taking part unanimously agreed that brain development during early childhood should be taught in schools.

Dr Louise Dalton, SEEN principal investigator, said: ‘The positive impact of the teaching programme is exciting to see, and the potential to easily scale up the programme to reach all children across the country. Instilling this core knowledge in carers and parents of the future is so important.’

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