The evidence

Neuroscience and the brain

The early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for their future potential. In the first 3 years of life, a child’s brain develops faster than at any other time, forming more than 1 million new neural connections every second.

New pathways can be developed, but early experiences establish the foundation – and change is much harder as children grow older.

A child’s brain reaches 90% of its growth by age 5. During the first five years a child’s brain is developing its core structures and connections. Sensory processing – like sight and hearing – peaks before age 1. Higher cognitive functions - like memory, language and communication, and reasoning – peak between 2 and 5.

The developing brain is an integrated organ. Healthy development at any stage depends on healthy development in previous stages, as more complex neural connections and skills build on earlier ones.