The early years set the foundation for future development

Research has shown that the early experiences of a child may affect the nature and quality of the brain’s developing architecture by determining which circuits are reinforced and which are pruned through lack of use. A key factor in this process is the “serve and return” relationship between children and their caregivers. If these responses are absent, unreliable or inappropriate, the brain’s architecture does not form as expected, and this can lead to disparities in learning and behaviour. These early disparities can have an adverse effect on children’s lifelong outcomes.

Source: Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.(2017 a). Brain Architecture.

KidSTART provide additional support for children from low-income families by walking alongside parents – creating awareness of the importance of the early years, providing the knowledge, skills and resources to optimise child health and development, and to encourage and support them to be their children’s role models in an on-going and lifelong parenting journey.

Read more on the science of early childhood development here 


Child Development Domains

All children go through a process of development that can be observed. The early years of a child’s life are very important for his or her development. Although children progress at different rates, there are various key milestones that they should reach as they develop. When a deficiency is identified, early intervention will be vital.  Child development covers the full scope of skills in respective domains that a child masters over their life including development in:

  • Social development

How children relate and get along with and interact with others

  • Emotional Development

How children relate to having and dealing with feelings and emotions

  • Language/Communication

How children express their needs and share what they are thinking as well as what is said to them

  • Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem solving)

How children learn new things and solve problems. It includes how children explore, learn and understand the world around them- discovering and investigating how things work around them. 

  • Physical Development

How children their bodies to move that involves gross motor skills (using large muscles) and fine motor (using small muscles)

Developmental domains of child development are interdependent. Development in one domain influences and is influenced by the development in the other domains. Parents and early childhood educators play an important role in supporting children’s holistic development.


Giving our KidSTART children a good start in life.

Part of a local Growing up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, 1,200 Singaporean Chinese, Malay and Indian women were recruited over 2009-2010 to be studied throughout their pregnancies and after they gave birth to their children. The babies were followed very closely as they grew up, observing them using over 20,000 variables. The children are now of school-going age and according to the study, researchers found that children from lower-income families have significantly poorer start in life.


By investing wisely in our KidSTART children and families, we hope that through KidSTART, we can help give every child a good start in life.


Lessons from our KidSTART pilot journey

Written by Seah Yang Hee, previous Director of Child Development Department, Early Childhood Development Agency, the paper shares the science behind the development of the KidSTART programme and the experience of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in implementing the KidSTART pilot in 3 regions.

Read about our pilot journey here.