Nathan Wallis on Social and Emotional Development in the first 1000 Days

In this interview, Nathan explains the critical importance of the first 1,000 days of a child's life; the benefits of a key person, or named person, approach in an early childhood setting; the neuroscience behind love and deep, meaningful connections. Let infants guide play to build creativity & attachment; reflect emotions before logic to connect.
· April 24, 2020

Nathan Wallis is a father of three and a foster parent with a professional background in child counselling, teaching and social service management.

Through his consultancy training, X-Factor Education Limited and his appearances on radio and television shows in New Zealand, he makes the latest neuroscience discoveries easy to understand and explains their practical implications for everyday practice.

In this session, early childhood expert Nathan Wallace shares invaluable insights on child development and education in the critical first thousand days.

Covering key research on infant brain development, Nathan emphasizes the importance of providing a secure, loving “dyadic” relationship in a child’s earliest years. This single primary caregiver fosters healthy social-emotional growth by responding consistently to the child’s needs. Nathan explains how rotating multiple caregivers disrupts attachment, increasing stress hormones that can hinder brain development.

Delving into the neuroscience, Nathan describes how free play boosts creativity and problem-solving—building blocks of intelligence. He highlights studies showing structured learning before age 7 statistically increases risks of anxiety and depression later in life. Letting kids freely build, create, and explore uninterrupted lays the neural foundations for flexible thinking.

Top Learning Points:

  • Prioritize parental leave/consistent primary caregivers in the first year of life to enable secure infant attachment
  • Maximize free play before age 7, resisting structured learning, to foster creativity and resilience
  • Reflect children’s emotions verbally before offering logic or direction to help them feel heard and cooperate

Nathan delivers research-backed best practices in his warm, engaging style. Gain inspiration and practical tips to champion child-led growth in those pivotal early years.

This episode was originally broadcast on 24th of April 2020.

You can find Nathan’s website here:

His Facebook here: @‌nathanwallisxfactoreducation

Instagram here: @‌nathandwallis

And his YouTube channel that he’s adding to daily at the minute here:

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Episode Includes

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