Early childhood

Early childhood (the period from birth until the age of 8) is the most important stage of development in a child’s life.

In the early years of a child’s life, especially the first 1,000 days when brain development is at its most rapid, children learn skills that are critical for all aspects of their lives.

For their brains and bodies to develop healthily, young children need parents or caregivers who:

  • Create a loving and responsive environment
  • Give their children nutritious food and clean water
  • Protect their children from common illnesses and violence
  • Provide opportunities for play and early learning.

However, millions of young children grow up without the care and services they need to survive and thrive.

We ensure young children receive the nurturing care they need, including during emergencies. Our work improves children’s health, nutrition, play, early learning and safety while challenging limiting and discriminatory gender stereotypes that hold girls back from an early age.

Issues

STORIES

A mother with her young daughter in Bangladesh

Health and gender equality strengthened in 5 countries

We’re removing barriers to quality health services girls and young women face in Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria and Senegal to reduce maternal and child mortality.

A mother with her child in Vietnam

Parenting groups support children’s early development in Vietnam

Dinh, a mother of 2 from Vietnam, is supporting her children to get the best possible start in life after attending parenting groups.

Children learning and playing in China

Early learning promotes gender equality in China

Preschool teachers in Shaanxi province are promoting gender equality through their work following training and guidance from Plan International.

A father with his daughter in Uganda

Fathers develop positive family relationships in Uganda

Fathers’ clubs are supporting Ugandan men like father of 11, John, to discuss issues they face and become better parents and partners.

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