85% of Brain Development Happens by 5 Years Old

Brains are built and grow through touch, talk, sight and sound in early childhood experiences. This experiential learning starts long before a child steps foot into kindergarten and is strengthened through regular interaction and stimulation in the home and in quality early learning settings.

Our home visitors encourage parents to read, sing, talk, and interact with their babies. The First Born Program® has a set curriculum to teach parents the value of multiple positive interactions a day.

During the first five years, a child’s brain is at its most flexible, making this a critical period for learning and growth. Science tells us that children who face adversity in the first years of life, especially those in low-income households, are more at risk for experiencing damage to their brain architecture, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Prevention through high-quality early learning and home visiting provide the support children need to build a foundation for a healthy and productive future. Waiting until kindergarten is too late—children who receive quality early education demonstrate greater cognitive and socio-emotional growth than children who do not.

Consider the following:

  • More than one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life.
  • 90% of a child’s brain physical volume develops as early as five years old.
  • The brain is most flexible and adaptable to learning during the earliest years of life.
  • Children who face greater adversity, like living with abuse or neglect, are at far greater risk for delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development. 
  • The brains of babies and young children require stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults for healthy brain development to take place.

United Way of Santa Fe County has the sole mission of providing early childhood education opportunities to all children in Santa Fe County. Through home visiting and high-quality PreK, as well as other innovative program, we strive to give all children a great start in school and life.