When most people think of early childhood development, what comes to mind is preprimary school learning; similarly, when they think about how best to ensure a child turns out well, their thoughts turn to adolescents. The FrameWorks Institute in Washington, DC, calls this “aging up,” a phenomenon that has been demonstrated as a bias in policy and public thinking in several countries, including South Africa (Richter, Tomlinson, Watt, Hunt, & Lindland, 2019). Yet it is the earliest period of life, from conception to two to three years of age, that most strongly regulates our trajectory across the course of our lives (Shonkoff, Richter, van der Gaag, & Bhutta, 2012) and that influences how children cope with early formal learning and the challenges of adolescence.

Author Biography

Linda Richter

Linda Richter, a developmental psychologist, is the author or co-author of >400 papers and chapters on basic and policy research in child and family development. She led the 2017 Lancet Series Advancing Early Child Development: From Science to Scale, and is engaged in related follow-up implementation activities including the development of the Nurturing Care Framework and the Early Childhood Development Country Profiles as part of Countdown to 2030. Linda led the development of South Africa’s National Integrated Early Child Development Policy and Programme, adopted by Cabinet in 2015, and is the Principal Investigator of several large-scale, long-term collaborative projects, including a birth cohort study of 3,273 South African children followed up for 28 years.



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