The Science - The Basics

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The human brain doubles to 70% of adult size during the first year of life, when the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard says there are a million new connections per second! It grows to 80% of adult size by the age of three and 90% by the age of five.

During the same period, the amount and quality of stimulation children experience interacting with parents and others has major impacts on brain architecture, with life-long impacts on social, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing.

These facts are why The Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University developed The Basics Principles. The goal is to help families from all backgrounds benefit from the unique opportunity that the early years provide to shape a child's future.

Developmental scientists and early-childhood experts helped the AGI distill The Basics Principles from decades of research, to create a clear, inspirational, science-based vocabulary to unify family and community support for early learning and brain development.

The Principles are:

They support nurturing, give-and-take (“serve and return”) relationships starting at birth.

By spreading and reinforcing The Basics Principles, communities can promote and democratize the developmental outcomes typically emphasized in early childhood literature and programming guidelines:

  • social-emotional development

  • language and literacy development

  • cognition and general knowledge

  • physical development and wellbeing

  • [receptive] approaches to learning.

Click on each Principle above for an overview video and accompanying tips and activities.