10 September, 2010

All In Good Time

Learning Together:
Part Two: An Introduction to Cognitive Development

Your child's cognitive development is an essential ingredient when you're talking education. When you choose to teach your child something is just as important as what you teach him. You wouldn't ask an infant to solve a quadratic equation! (In this competitive world, though, I have a feeling that some over-achieving sort has, in fact, attempted this)

For many years, early reading has been widely considered as a sure-fire predictor for later educational achievement. Every parent of a pre-schooler has been asked that cringe-worthy question: "Is your child reading yet?" This question invariably emanates from the parent whose child is reading and has been since she was in diapers.

Before you go out and buy those flashcards, listen to this. Early reading may not actually contribute to future academic success. A child's language development, however; does. New Zealand researcher Dr. Sabastian Suggate states the following:
 ...Research emphasizes to me the importance of early language and learning, while de-emphasizing the importance of early reading...In fact, language development is, in many cases, a better predictor of later reading, than early reading is.(Science Alert, 2010)

A study conducted by the Cambridge Primary Review recommends that children delay formal schooling until the age of 6. Rather, young children should spend their days in play because an early introduction to literacy and numeracy may "turn off" some children to learning. (Sunday Times, 2009)

So, let's take a quick look at the common stages of childhood development. For many decades, biologist Jean Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development has been the go-to theory for what kids are learning when.

Biologist Jean Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
Stage 1: (Age 0-2)
Sensorimotor Stage: Infants determine that self is separate from object.

Stage 2: (Age 2-7)
Pre-operational Stage. Very young children use
words and symbols to represent objects.

Stage 3: (Age 7-11)
Concrete Operational Stage. Children use words and symbols to represent concrete concepts.

Stage 4: (Age 11-Adulthood)
Formal Operational Stage. Adolescents and adults use words and symbols to represent abstract concepts.

Piaget's stages seem to echo the latest reading instruction research. Generally speaking, between the ages of 2 and 7, children are using words to represent objects. This is language acquisition. After the age of 7, children are using words to represent ideas. That sounds a lot like reading to me. 

Take heart, parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers. Read to your child. Allow lots of time for play. Speak to them. But don't worry. Reading will come. All in good time. So, next time, that mom asks you if your 2 year old is reading yet, just tell her to keep her panties on.

Next week in Learning Together:
Part Three: An Introduction to Educational Approaches

2009, October 16. Children start school too young...wait till they're 6, experts say. Sunday Times. London, England.
2010, Late readers close learning gap.  Science Times.

No comments:

Post a Comment