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What we know

What we know makes a difference for kids.

We know a lot about how kids grow and what we can do to support them. 

We know a lot about how kids grow and what makes a difference at each age and stage of childhood – and research reveals that “old thinking” is no longer useful when looking at the brains of young children. What do we mean? Check out the table below:

Old thinking

   New thinking

How the brain develops depends on the genes that you were born with

How the brain develops hinges on a complex interplay between the genes that you are born with and the experiences you have

The experiences you have before age three have a limited impact on later development

Early experiences have a decisive impact on brain architecture & adult capacities

A secure relationship with a primary caregiver creates a favourable context for early development and learning

Brain development is linear: the brain’s capacity to learn and change grows steadily as an infant progresses toward adulthood

Brain development is non-linear: there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills

A toddler’s brain is much less active than the brain of a college student

By the time children reach age three, their brains are twice as active as those of adults (brain activity drops in adolescence)

Rethinking the Brain (McCain and Mustard, 1999)

Our Roadmap takes a life-course approach, with priorities and actions at each stage from pregnancy to age 8 which can improve outcomes. There are so many opportunities to improve the chances of our littlest people! Roll over and ‘click’ the life stages below to find out what’s important.  

Ready to have kids

Being healthy, including having healthy relationships, prior to parenting is associated with better outcomes for kids.
So is delaying parenting until your 20s or 30s.

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A great start in life

The physical, mental and even emotional capabilities of children are influenced by what happens in the womb. Newborns can even recognise their native tongue when they are born!  The human brain grows more from birth to age 1, than it does from year 1 to adulthood.  Lots of kind nurturing and adequate nutrition helps little brains grow well.

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On track at 3

Toddlers take their rapidly growing brain out on the road to explore the world from ages 1-3. The brain sucks in language faster than at any other time in life. The more kind words a child hears, the more powerful their language skills. Toddlers are also learning to regulate their emotions, so boundary setting and attention from caregivers are important.

Because the brain is continuing to develop rapidly, picking up developmental or health needs early can make a lifelong difference.

Exposure to toxic stresses that comes from violence at home, homelessness or similar experiences, can dramatically impede brain development.

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On track at 5

Language and social skills continue to develop, but now transitioning to the formal learning system becomes important for most kids. Kindergarten programs and other high-quality school preparation programs make a measurable difference to how kids do at school.  Learning through rich play, talking and reading remains a powerful force for good.

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On track at 8

Kids are adjusting to the first years of formal learning and the routines and social situations that come with it.
There’s a direct relationship between school attendance and school achievement, so every day counts and encouraging learning at home is important too. Social and emotional wellbeing is very important for learning. If kids are churned up inside, they can’t learn.

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The Roadmap

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