Are critical periods critical for early childhood education? The role of timing in early childhood pedagogy
Bailey, D. (2002). Are critical periods critical for early childhood education? The role of timing in early childhood pedagogy. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 17(3), 281-294. DOI: 10.1016/S0885-2006(02)00165-5
Use of the term “critical period” as an argument justifying initiatives to expand early childhood programs has been challenged in recent years. In this article I review the research on critical periods and conclude that reliance on a critical periods argument is neither warranted nor necessary, since other fully justifiable arguments for early childhood initiatives exist. However, I reframe the question as one of timing of critical experiences necessary for healthy development of all children. I suggest that the importance of timing lies not within a set of age parameters but rather in the match between experiences provided, the child’s developmental status, and the child’s need or readiness to learn a particular skill or concept.