School Blogs

The importance of your child's first three years at school

7th February 2023

The importance of your child's first three years at school

The quality of a child's education undoubtedly has a lasting impact on the rest of their life. But how important are their first three years at school?

A child's early years are the foundation for their future development, providing a strong base for lifelong learning abilities, including cognitive and social development. The quality of a child’s education in the first few years of life has a lasting effect on their school life and beyond.

90% of a child's brain develops by age 5. Research shows that the brain connections required for many important higher-level abilities are formed during this time. This scientific consensus is supported by a recent report from the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, led by the Princess of Wales Kate Middleton, who considers it to be the most pivotal age for development, future health and happiness.

Many educators, including our early years specialists, agree with this philosophy and that nursery and reception are the ideal time to start a challenging, accelerated curriculum. The reason is that younger minds learn much faster.

However, in a recent study by the Royal Foundation, it was noted that a significant proportion of UK parents of a 0-5-year-old (69%) underestimate the critical importance of the early years.

Positive experiences in your child's first three years of school can benefit them in developing social skills and their ability to learn, which will set them up for life. Research by Durham University and the Department for Education suggests pupils in the ‘most effective’ Reception classes can expect to earn between £2,000 and £7,500 more on average than their peers in less effective settings. This is why the school selection process is so important.

Development is not an automatic process; it depends on each unique child being given opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. Therefore it is paramount that all learning activities are carefully planned, well-structured and supported within enabling environments to ensure that all children have appropriate experiences, which will allow every child to move from the nursery, to reception and beyond with confidence, social awareness and readiness for learning.

Laura Nike, the Head of Wandsworth Prep, who specialises in Early Years, comments:

“At WPS, we carefully plan our curriculum to provide enriching learning opportunities that encourage children to explore and experiment. Our stimulating and challenging environment is the perfect setting for children to develop a sense of curiosity and wonder and to build relationships that will last a lifetime.”

In the Foundation Stage, our aim is that children will develop a strong sense of self, feel positive about their abilities as a learner, have formed constructive relationships and be confident communicators.

To find out more about our early years provision, book a tour with our Head, Laura Nike. Contact us via email at or call us at ​​0208 870 4133.