Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Little Kids Learn

Those tiny bundles of cooing, screaming, and sleep--our babies--are actually learning titans, massive geniuses with thousands of synapses firing in their sophisticated little brains every second. Experts galore are telling teachers and families how to input our information into them. And how to get the little tyrants to do what we want/need. One of the easiest experts to access is T. Berry Brazelton,  This website and his books are a gold mine for families and professionals concerning kids' earliest years. He was the resident expert consultant for Public Television's Mr. Rogers, who I consider my master teacher for pre-schoolers, having watched "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" daily with my own kids. If you enjoy Facebook, Dr. Brazleton's people are at

Jean Piaget, developmental theorist (1896-1980)
concluded that babies, toddlers, and children have developmental stages and cannot learn information any more sophisticated than the stage to which they have developed. He believed interaction with their world (like little scientists testing their hypothses) enhanced their development. There is some current disagreement with Piaget's work, but one principle still almost universally accepted is the concept of 'the teachable moment."­Behavioral-­Expectations-­To-­Young-­Childrens-­Cognitive-­Abilities&id=1300261>.  Almost anyone who has communicated with young children realizes that when you have her interest and attention, the child will cooperate in the activity, recall the information, be able to perform and even repeat the task. The experienced teacher will integrate a learning experience with the power of 'teachable moments,' so even the topics that are not routinely compelling for a child can be learning effective. Since little children are enormously curious--can we even count the number of consecutive questions a four-year-old can ask?--our bank of teachable moments is always full.

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