How Children Learn (Early Learning and Teaching): Major Areas That Need Attention

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Major Areas That Need Attention for Cognitive Development Are

  • Sensory and perceptual development: Children learn through their senses. Use of senses is basic to the process of knowing and understanding. Senses are the gateway of knowledge. The more varied and extensive these experiences, the broader will be the base for children to form ideas about the world. Any kind of sensory deprivation or limitation may lead to development of incomplete or distorted concepts.

  • Development of cognitive skills: These include memory and observation, classification, sequential thinking, problem-solving and reasoning. The teacher needs to develop and plan activities and experiences for all these cognitive skills. Formation of basic concepts: Concept is a mental construction or picture of a class of objects, people, places and phenomena.

  • Formation or development of basic concepts: Formation or development of basic concepts in children is crucial to their understanding of the environment. Only if they have the clarity of these concepts will they be able to observe, discriminate and categorize the different objects in their environment and progress from perception-bound reasoning to logical reasoning.

  • Number concept: Number is an abstract concept which comes to our mind after counting things. Developing a concept of numbers in terms of the irrelative value; number symbols; counting and placing the numbers in order needs to be part of the curriculum. Children are familiar with numbers because they have seen these on telephone instruments, addresses, speedometers, page numbers, newspapers, calendars and so on, but they have no experience with mathematical operations. In the early years, all learning occurs through play rather than through didactic communication.

Major areas that need attention

Major Areas That Need Attention

Development of Environmental Concepts

Children learn from their environment. The immediate environment of children can be categorized into:

  • Natural environment (animals, birds, insects, vegetables and fruits, plants)

  • Physical environment (water, air, sky, earth, seasons, weather)

  • Social environment (self and family, transport, community helpers, festivals)

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • This refers to the development of those characteristics or behaviors that help children adjust to their social environment. Emotional development provides the base for social development. The family, particularly the parents become the primary agents of socialization.

  • A major objective of the ECCE center is to help children progress from egocentric towards socio-centrism i.e. towards playing with others, helping others and generally getting socialized.

  • The ECCE center needs to provide a trust worthy and secure environment so that children adjust to the activities of the center, develop good habits, maintain personal hygiene and cleanliness, develop proper eating habits, use the toilet correctly, wash hands before and after meals, puts away objects after playing and keep the environment clean.

  • Therefore, the most important needs of children that the ECCE center must address are the need for security and acceptance. When children come to the center, they leave home for the first time and the challenge is to adjust to the new environment. Emotional development provides base for social development.

  • Punishment is not desirable since it only adds to the humiliation and anxiety. During early childhood years, the concept of gender also develops among children. Sex-role stereotypes are also formed around this stage.

  • The teacher and other adults including parents should not encourage differences in expected behaviors from boys and girls. They should treat all children alike and not have favorites.

Art and Aesthetics

  • All children have the potential for creativity although they may differ in the degree of creativity. Creativity does not take place in a vacuum. The more experiences children have, the better are the foundations on which they will build their creative efforts.

  • A stimulating and encouraging environment promotes creativity in children. Opportunities and facilities for free play, dramatic and constructive play fosters creativity in children.

  • An authoritarian and strict atmosphere in the ECCE center may impede the development of creativity in children.

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