It’s always worth revisiting what we think we know.
In recent years, there’s been a trend among early childhood researchers to keep moving the focus to earlier and earlier in children’s lives. The storyline might go something like this: Sure, grade school matters, but we need to think about high-quality preschools to level the playing field. Actually, preschool is too late — the interactions kids have with their parents in the first years of life are really what’s crucial for development. Then again, that may be a bit belated: A mother’s experience of stress and depression when a baby is in utero can shape that child’s brain and eventual mental health. Before you know it, a mother’s own childhood is casting a dark spell on the unborn’s future prospects for a healthy life.