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3 The Science of Early Learning and Brain Development
Pages 56-96

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From page 56...
... . In this way, children build on their core knowledge through their lived experiences, which occur within their socio-cultural contexts (Guitierrez & Rogoff, 2003; Guttierrez et al., 2017)
From page 57...
... Content and skills typically shared by adults with children include domain-general skills -- social and emotional learning and executive functioning skills -- as well as domain-specific skills -- language, literacy, and mathematics learning. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of the science of early childhood development and early learning for preschool curriculum development, including cultural and linguistic variations in learning opportunities and learning.
From page 58...
... . Importantly, children learn optimally when they feel safe and secure in their home and neighborhood environment before arriving at preschool.
From page 59...
... . Access to Resources Related to these basic prerequisites for early learning, neurodevelopmental research has shown that family socioeconomic status, particularly poverty, is negatively associated with differences in brain structure and function in multiple domains, including language, cognition, executive functions, memory, and social-emotional processes (e.g., Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Hackman et al., 2015; Noble, McCandliss & Farah, 2007; Stevens, Lauinger & Neville, 2009)
From page 60...
... . Further, as discussed later in this chapter in the section on language learning, children learn through child-directed speech as well as through listening to adult conversations, with the prevalence of these learning opportunities differing depending on cultural context (e.g., Schneidman & Goldin-Meadow, 2012; Casillas et al., 2020)
From page 61...
... In the didactic, pedagogical condition the adult directly taught the attributes of triangles; in the guided play condition the child was encouraged to do the discovering with teacher scaffolding; and in the free play condition, children were just given the shapes to play with. Strikingly, children learned more about the defining features of shapes when they were in the guided play condition compared to both the direct instruction and the free play conditions, and this was true both immediately after the training and one week later.
From page 62...
... Play ranges from adult directed play activities where the adult sets up a play activity with a learning goal in mind, to guided play where the adult gives the child agency but provides scaffolding and guidance during the play with a learning goal in mind, to free play, in which the child both initiates and constructs the play without a specific learning goal (Zosh et al., 2018)
From page 63...
... . Parents in the guided play condition produced more spatial language compared with those in the free play or preassembled conditions.
From page 64...
... . The lack of professional development around play is a factor in this confusion, and the emphasis on free play is at odds with research findings showing that guided play is more conducive to supporting many learning goals.
From page 65...
... The focus on more direct pedagogy and basic skills in classrooms serving children of lower socioeconomic status, racially minoritized, and immigrant backgrounds stems from deficit models, which incorporate the belief that minoritized children need direct instruction to build basic academic skills (e.g., vocabulary, letter recognition, counting) in order to narrow achievement gaps.
From page 66...
... . Building on findings showing that young children are astute cultural learners, Rogoff and colleagues have studied the learning behaviors of children in Indigenous American communities and have documented differences in the learning behaviors and experiences of children who are growing up in different cultural contexts.
From page 67...
... , the type of instruction detailed in the ASI model is relatively recent and is associated with industrialized societies. The careful work of these researchers shows that the ways that children learn as well as what they learn is deeply connected to their cultural contexts.
From page 68...
... In addition, they identified an important developmental change between ages 3 and 4 years of age Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs
From page 69...
... Domain general skills include social and emotional learning (SEL) and executive functioning skills (EF)
From page 70...
... . Early executive functioning skills and self-regulation skills are related to concurrent and future academic achievement (e.g., Alloway & Alloway, 2010; Blair, 2016; Bull, Espe & Wiebe, 2008; Schmidt et al., 2022; Zelazo et al., 1997)
From page 71...
... . As mentioned above, preschool children's EF skills relate to their academic achievement, including later literacy (e.g., Bierman et al., 2008)
From page 72...
... A key takeaway from research on language learning is that it is resilient: across cultural contexts, children learn their native language and also have the capacity to learn multiple other languages (NASEM, 2017)
From page 73...
... Further, such questions provide adults with a window into children's language skills and thinking, which can guide their scaffolding of children's language development. Research on shared book reading provides additional evidence supporting the importance of children's taking an active role in language learning comes from the context of shared book reading.
From page 74...
... Despite these differences in exposure to child-directed speech in different cultural contexts, there is evidence that children who hear less child-directed speech achieve language milestones, including first words and first word combinations, at the same age as U.S. children who hear more child-directed speech, supporting the resilience of language development (Casillas et al., 2020)
From page 75...
... Notably, early mathematical skills include two core areas: numerical thinking, which includes understanding whole numbers, operations, and relations; and a geometry, spatial thinking, and measurement core. Additionally, young children learn to notice relations and patterns, to reason about these relations, and to communicate their mathematical ideas (see NRC, 2009 for review)
From page 76...
... Qualitative aspects of the mathematics learning opportunities young children experience are also related to their mathematics learning. For example, Gunderson and Levine (2011)
From page 77...
... Emerging evidence, mainly from studies of older students, indicates that mathematics learning is strengthened with a culturally responsive strengths-based approach. Such an approach attends to the meaningfulness of mathematics learning activities, which increases interest in learning mathematics.
From page 78...
... . The importance of providing science learning opportunities in preschool curricula is highlighted by recent theories suggesting that engaging in science and engineering learning benefits not only learning and interest in these domains but also learning in the language arts, social-emotional learning, and mathematics, as well as the acquisition of critical domain-general skills, including executive functioning and approaches to learning (Bustamante, Greenfield, & Nayfield, 2018)
From page 79...
... Second, little is known about how best to engage children with particular disabilities in science learning. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM: CULTURAL VARIATIONS IN LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND LEARNING As described in this chapter, a large body of evidence demonstrates that what and how young children learn are shaped by experiences and environments and therefore vary with cultural context.
From page 80...
... call for a paradigm shift in studying children's developmental learning based on the fact that all children learn through their everyday experiences embedded within cultural contexts. In the United States, moreover, many children experience a variety of cultural contexts, which they navigate and integrate.
From page 81...
... Variations in the lived experiences of children influence what children know and how they learn, as all children learn through their environments and experiences, which are embedded within cultural contexts. Accordingly, celebrating, discussing, and incorporating this diversity of experiences and cultures within early education settings is critical to promoting positive early development and learning and setting young children on a positive trajectory for lifelong learning.
From page 82...
... Advances in child development and behavior, 49, 303–313. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.acdb.2015.10.004 Bar-Haim, Y., Ziv, T., Lamy, D., & Hodes, R
From page 83...
... . The effectiveness of dialogic reading in increasing English Language Learning preschool children's expressive language.
From page 84...
... . Mathematics learning in early childhood: Paths toward excellence and equity.
From page 85...
... Child Development, 92(2)
From page 86...
... . Socioeconomic status and executive function: developmental trajectories and mediation.
From page 87...
... Child development, 86(1)
From page 88...
... . Early speech perception and later language development: Implications for the "critical period." Language Learning and Development, 1(3-4)
From page 89...
... . A meta-analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic status and executive function performance among children.
From page 90...
... . Parents' views on play and the goal of early childhood education in relation to children's home activity and executive functions: A cross-cultural investigation.
From page 91...
... Child Development, 79(2)
From page 92...
... . Language learning, socioeconomic status, and child-directed speech.
From page 93...
... Child Development, 75(2)
From page 94...
... SPATIAL SKILLS, THEIR DEVELOPMENT, AND THEIR LINKS TO MATHEMATICS. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 82(1)
From page 95...
... . Pathways from Socioeconomic Status to Early Academic Achievement: The Role of Specific Executive Functions.
From page 96...
... Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(1)


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