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A Balanced Approach to Developing the Whole Child, 1st Edition

It also documents how children experiment with and use literacy constructions and devices to create their stories. It is designed to help teachers think about this early learning and about the scientific explanations of how and why this learning takes place.

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This introductory chapter provides the theoretical and scientific framework for understanding the success of the content found in this book. This framework is based on the work of Jean Piaget Young children learn to think though their own actions on objects and their interactions with others.

This kind of learning is natural and comfortable for children. They develop theories about the world in which they live as they act on objects and discover what happens through those interactions. This motivates them to continue to experiment with the objects. The ability to reason develops through four major stages that include the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational see Table 1.

This development proceeds through these stages in order, but the rate of development varies according to the individual. This chapter will focus on the earlier stages, since they are the foundation of thought. Within each stage, children construct mental relationships that form the structure of their thought Piaget, Recent brain research provides confirming information about the biological structures that Piaget identified earlier Rushton, Wesson explains that, when new learning occurs, a corresponding neurophysiologic connection is created in the brain.

Children learn to use language to communicate what they have come to know about their worlds. For example, they learn most of their native language without anyone specifically teaching it to them. From the moment they utter their first cries, children begin learning language by using the sounds they can make to imitate the voices around them. The specific language they begin to learn and the rate at which they learn it depend on the home and community language into which they are born.

Scientific theories about how children learn language differ. Intelligence is demonstrated through motor activity without the use of symbols. Knowledge of the world is limited but developing because it is based on physical interactions and experiences. Learners acquire object permanence.

Early childhood development - HEART

Physical development mobility allows the learner to begin developing new intellectual abilities. Some symbolic language abilities are developed at the end of this stage. Preoperational Toddler and Early Childhood In this stage which has two sub-stages , intelligence is demonstrated through the use of symbols, language use matures, and memory and imagination are developed, but thinking is done in a nonlogical, nonreversible manner. Egocentric thinking predominates. Concrete Operational Elementary and Early Adolescence In this stage, intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects.

Operational thinking develops mental actions that are reversible. Egocentric thought diminishes. Formal Operational Adolescence and Adulthood In this stage, intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. The learner is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning.

Many people do not think formally during adulthood. While the topic of whether language learning is innate or the result of general cognitive abilities remains debatable, the processes by which children acquire language are well-researched and have been expanded to include research on early brain development.

Interestingly, this recent research into the developing brain also supports the Piagetian theory about language development. Piaget identified this as social interaction, a process that is strongly supported in this text. Language learning includes four different kinds of development. These are phonological development the ability to hear, discriminate, and produce the phonemes or sounds of the language , semantic development the ability to use words to make meaning , syntactic development the ability to use word-combining rules , and pragmatic development the ability to understand the conventional ways language is used.

Early Cognition and Language Learning Birth to Six Months Early language learning refers to the learning that occurs during the first two years of life. The cognitive correlate of the early language-learning period is the sensorimotor The Child as Learner 5 period of intellectual development Piaget, During this period, infants think, not in the way we know the term, but rather by using all of their senses and some motoric activity to come to know about the world into which they were born.

During this time the infants learn to lift their heads, turn over, and sit up with support. They begin to differentiate objects to be sucked or grasped. For example, they may reject the pacifier if they want milk. Infants begin to learn language as they listen and start to make and manipulate the sounds in their environment. They experiment with all of the speech sounds that are possible for humans to make.

Early in their development, they are able to discriminate between speech and environmental sounds, and they play with the different rhythmic and intonation patterns of the human voice. They learn to use different cries depending on what they want, and adults quickly respond to those they recognize. As infants listen to adults in their immediate environments, they begin to imitate the speech sounds they hear.

Improving communication, language and literacy in the early years

By six to seven weeks of age, they are able to produce long drawn out vowel sounds through their cooing. They respond to a distinctive kind of talk that many adults adopt when they talk to infants. This talk, sometimes referred to as motherese, uses a soft loving tone and a slower more exaggerated form of speech. As infants listen to this talk, they begin to engage in turn-taking with the adult speaker by cooing and gurgling.

They are able to communicate their feelings through laughing, fussing, and crying, and they respond to being talked to by making noises and moving both arms and legs. Six to Eight Months Cognitively, infants at this age build on earlier learning and begin to act intentionally and are active in their home or other environments. For example, as they lie in their beds, they use developing eye—hand coordination to swing their arms and make the mobile move.

They also learn to repeat actions to produce certain effects. For example, if they are on the floor, they may push the ball over and over to see where it goes. After six or seven months of experimentation with speech sounds, infant vocalizations change so that they begin to use mainly the speech sounds of the language into which they are being raised, and they begin babbling using consonant—vowel syllables. Additionally, they begin to lose the ability to produce those sounds that are not part of their native language Lindfors, However, when young children are exposed to more than one language in the home from birth, they are not confused, nor do they experience language delays.

Eight to Twelve Months Infants at this age are still in the sensorimotor stage of development.

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  • During this time, children continually seek new ways and actions to explore their environments. They 6 Part One: The Child as Learner have learned to sit up without assistance, crawl across the floor, and to stand without help. Most learn to walk with adult support and are able to use their thumbs and forefingers to grasp and hold objects. This ability provides many opportunities for them to explore a variety of objects of different shapes and sizes. Also, during this time, infants begin to control their sound patterns so that their syllables become more adult in nature.

    Parents often respond to this kind of babbling and act as if they are having a conversation with the infant, and they repeat what the child says to encourage the child to say it again. Thus, at this early age, infants are learning many new words even though they do not yet speak them. Twelve to Eighteen Months Cognitively, these infants are in the latter part of the sensorimotor stage. They have learned to walk by themselves, are able to climb stairs and on to furniture, to roll balls, and to use eating utensils such as spoons and cups. This improved mobility allows them more opportunities to coordinate their reflexes in relation to objects.

    Additionally, they are able to feed themselves using their fingers. These infants enjoy interactions with their caregivers while eating, diaper changing, and playing. From twelve to eighteen months of age, infants begin to develop understandings of objects, places, actions, and people and produce words that are holophrastic in nature, in that one word represents a whole idea.

    During this time, there is rapid growth and development in their abilities to walk and run so that they are able to participate in a number of different kinds of activities like playing, The Child as Learner 7 jumping, and running games. Their thinking is moving from the sensorimotor state to preoperational thought that includes the beginnings of the ability to reverse thought.

    Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of Balanced Reading Instruction

    This includes their ability to bring to mind images of past events and things that are not present and their desire to play with other children. They are becoming aware of rules and are not concerned with winning, just playing with others. Additionally, they can respond to hearing the names of different body parts and point to them when asked.

    During this period, children will develop a speaking vocabulary of about words and a listening vocabulary of approximately to words.

    By about two years of age, toddlers begin to experiment with a variety of different ways their words can function Halliday, They use the instrumental function to ensure their needs are met, i. When they tell others their names, they are using the informative function.

    However, they are just beginning to experiment with these different functions and will grow to use them in a more sophisticated manner as their language continues to develop. Important structural changes in the brain allow for this new representational thought to occur. Language is the ability to use signs to represent ideas and actions.

    It is the most advanced form of the semiotic function that develops from earlier forms of representation that include play, imitation, symbols, and mental images.

    Institutional Practices

    The semiotic or representational function involves the ability to mentally represent an object, event, or idea through the use of an image, symbol, or sign and begins when the child is around two years of age Piaget, Representation refers to the ability to bring to mind things that are no longer present or actions that occurred some time in the past, which is acquired as the child engages in 8 Part One: The Child as Learner play and imitation.

    This ability is initiated when the child begins the use of deferred imitation and develops, through mental images, to the use of symbols and signs to signify actions or objects. Deferred Imitation The earliest form of representational ability is deferred imitation or imitation that occurs in the absence of the thing being represented.

    Attitudes and Beliefs

    For example, a child may go to the porch where he had previously seen a cat stalking a squirrel and move his arms and legs as if to imitate the cat stalking its prey or may take a set of keys to the door to imitate the actions of unlocking the door. Symbolic or Pretend Play Pretend play is an important development in the semiotic function that begins to occur around the age of three.

    In this more advanced kind of symbolic use, children work together, take on the roles of others, and agree on the use of objects to represent their ideas. Drawing Drawing is midway between pretend play and the mental image in that, like play, it serves as an enjoyable activity and, like the mental image, it is a representation of something held in mind.

    Once the scribbles seem to resemble something known, the child discovers this resemblance and names the picture. If the child tries to remake the same picture from memory at a later time, drawing becomes imitation and image representation. Through continued drawing, children begin to make their scribbles more realistic, in that they have characteristics that are representational; for example, a house may have two sides and a roof see Figure 1.