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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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Globalization’s Missing Middle
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Spring 2004
Starting Out on the Right Path
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A third significant finding was the realization that positive relationships are powerful mediating factors that support basic emotional development. Research on what is termed 'emotional intelligence' strongly implies that how a young child feels is as important, if not more important, as how a child thinks. This suggested that the primacy of emotional development — including the importance of developing a secure attachment and the ability to develop trusting relationships — is an integral part of the fundamental emotional scaffolding that supports cognitive and language development. These personal capacities and attributes are also important for optimal lifelong learning.

And fourth, the research suggested that not only were optimal experiences and relationships important for healthy development and school readiness but that adversity negatively impacts brain development. In this context, adversity is a wide spectrum and can manifest from a range of events that include the devastating impact of abuse and neglect to the more common problems of substance abuse and parental depression that result in less-than-optimal parent-child interactions.

Several studies have documented how adverse experiences can overwhelm a young child's immature and developing coping mechanisms and result in significant changes in neural function, with long-term effects on emotional, behavioral and cognitive development. This research also clearly shows that adversity manifests in many forms, and one of the most common factors contributing to adversity in early childhood is poverty. The resulting conditions associated with being poor and not having adequate material, social and psychological resources to parent effectively can further challenge a child's healthy development.

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