“The first six years of life set the stage for lifelong learning, behaviour, health and well-being.” Dr. J Fraser Mustard
Dr. Fraser Mustard, renowned for his work in early human development passed away November 16th, 2011. I hadn’t heard of him until seeing articles celebrating his life for his unwaivering championing of the importance of early brain development. But I have certainly felt his impact through the Early Years Centres that I’ve enjoyed using over the years. And I certainly share his passion for the importance of the early years in a child’s life.
Together with Margaret McCain, he co-authored the original Early Learning Report that illustrated the importance of a child’s experiences (of lack thereof) during the first six years of a child’s life. This study impacted how we perceived and valued early learning. As a result, the province of Ontario set up Early Years Centres, made more funding available for various early learning initiatives and in 2010 started phasing in full day kindergarten.
Can I tell you how impressive these Early Years Centre are? I see these centres in cities and towns across our province (there are several location in my town) and the services they provide are incredible – from nursery school classes, parenting seminars, parent and tot activities and on and on. It’s a huge support system for families and judging by the parking lot and wait lists to get into some of the classes it’s a resource that is well used in the community.
I dug a little deeper to learn more about this intriguing man who had six children of his own and found this CBC interview. In it, he talks about two key factors that can positively improve a child’s development: good nutrition and opportunities for problem based learning. He also discusses the importance of human evolution and parenting as discussed in the book Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. I’ll definitely be checking that out.
He’s an inspiring man. He certainly inspired many to carry on his mission. Below are organizations that resulting from inspiration or a direct influence of Dr. Fraser Mustard. RIP.
Lastly, I need to include this interview in which Dr. Mustard is asked “Why is 6 the magic age? Six and under.. what needs to be done and why?” The answer? The very reason I am so passionate about this topic.