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Childhood - Infant Thinking Examples of Thought

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Did you know that a multi-sensory, transitional approach to teaching young children facilitates fluency, literacy, and symbolic thinking? Well, now you do!

It may be my profession and it may be research, but it’s the most fun to watch children at any specific point in time put their minds, their bodies, and their brains to work constructing their unique MULTI-SENSORY TRANSITIONAL versions of reality. Even minutes later, actions change, the experimentation changes, and new-old what was, just minutes before new, becomes old, and a new-new emerges.

I watch a 2-year-old with his paddleball. He lays it down, picks up the ball, moves it, throws it, and says “Ball night-night”. He holds the ball and bounces himself up and down. He holds the paddle and drops the ball and stares intently at the rubber string. CONCRETE-LITERAL-TACTILE-VISUAL-SOCIAL.

A four year old, walks the dog, and systematically plunges the ball downward, outward, backward, upward, and testing where the ball goes, using the paddle as the instrument and telling people to get out of the way, “I don’t know how to do this thing”. SPATIAL-NOT TEMPORAL-A GROUPER, CONFIGURER, SORTER.

The poise and inflated ego of the 7 year old, as she deftly palpitates the paddle in the air and smoothly strokes the ball against the surface reminds me, as a child-watcher, OF THE REVERSIBILITY AND CONSERVATION SKILLS OF THIS AGE, AND THE EXPANDED KNOWLEDGE BASE that assumes there are rules and absolutely correct ways to do this.

Moreover, “Miss Perfect” will go into a decline, a tantrum, and a declaration that she will never touch this again, when she makes a mistake. Aren’t children special?

Our culture has always had concepts about children, with little data to back them up. Here are some golden oldies.

THEORIES:

INFANTS ARE PASSIVE BLOBS 
YOUTH ARE GROWING FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN OF LIFE
MATERNAL DEPRIVATION IS TO BLAME FOR CHILD’S DEFICITS AND SCHOOL FAILURE
CHILDREN DEVELOP IN PERIODS
CHILDREN DEVELOP IN STAGES.

A look at these schematics shows the problem of accepting these ideas in A VOID WITHOUT PUTTING THE CHILD IN CONTEXT. How can development be a straight-line progression, without dips and curves, drops, peaks and valleys? Where do these show life span TRANSITIONS WITH normal bits and pieces of REGRESSION like all children demonstrate, or the complicated decalage effect when a child skips crawling, lacks vision, yet looks at objects and smiles on time, so to speak, or does not talk until he asks how to spell ceiling fan, or LEARNS IN THE funny retarded or slow VISUAL-TACTILE WAY just like his uncle Harry?

The new breed of researchers, bolstered by better data analysis methods such as survival and sequential cross- lag, borrowed from sociology and other interdisciplinary sources, has offered replacement theories which identify how development is more complicated as a SIMPLE TO COMPLEX PROCESS WHICH IS NOT SO TIDY AND ONE-DIRECTIONAL, but rather, a simultaneous multi-level self-produced INTERACTION between biology (remember Piaget’s genetic epistemology) and ecology or environment (recall Bronfenbrenner, Cole, and Bruner, Lewis and Bornstein’s socioecological psychology).

SO WE LOOK AT DEVELOPMENT AS A COMPLEX MODEL OVER A LIFETIME, AND WE ALWAYS START WITH INFANCY. NO JOKE – START AT THE BEGINNING, LEARN TO OBSERVE AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY PARENTS ALWAYS OUTSCORE TEACHERS ON DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES AND ESTIMATES OF CHILD ABILITY – THEY SIMPLY THINK BACK TO WHEN THEIR CHILD WAS A SMALLER PERSON.

Research by Rose and Gottfried, Deloache, Bates, Hetherington, Ungerer, Nelson, Ruff and McCune, and others in early literacy and language, and early symbolic play and thinking, show that SENSORY INFORMATION IS MIXED AND MATCHED, AND THAT THERE ARE EPISODES OF “CROSSING OVER” BETWEEN SENSES during play action sequences, that there are examples of SIMULTANEOUS multi-sensory use of play objects during play, and that specific objects and props, and specific categories OF SETTINGS AND THEMES of activity which have been shown to elicit behaviors that maximize and facilitate three kinds of early learning.

Fluency that is THE CHILD AS a SPEAKER- linguistics and speech, language experiences, chatter-chatter-chatter and free and spontaneous conversation and discourse among young children. Literacy, that is THE CHILD AS A WRITER AND A READER – ALL CHILDREN READ (THE EXPRESSION READING SOMEONE’S FACE COMES TO MIND) learning to write and read symbols and representational information, and Symbolic thinking, that is THE CHILD AS A THINKER AND FEELER – the child’s ability to make mental images, MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS, AND engage in symbolic pretend activity where objects, events, and people can be imagined before they are seen or heard, after they are seen or heard or felt, substituted for another symbol or sign, etc.

SYMBOLIC THOUGHT can be seen in the broom play of 1-2-3 year old: broom is dragged, then horsy, and then can I feed the horse dog food? 3-4 year old – banana for a phone, tube for a phone, several phones, post office, builds structures for several post offices.

FLUENCY AND ORAL LANGUAGE CAN BE SEEN AND HEARD IN THE 7 MONTH OLD, babbling all the adult sounds of speech, labeling and naming words by one year; then what did I DRAW RIGHT THERE? Then well, this is a structure and why don’t you come over; “What goes there?” I can’t go to bed with a BESSIE – HUGE tantrum.

COMPETENCIES INCLUDE COMMUNICATION EXPERIENCES, WRITING AND KNOWING, TELLING WHAT YOU KNOW.

LITERACY can be seen in 1-2 year old; being read to is a comfort zone, turning pages, points, tells a story, BEEP, BEEP, IM A JEEP; writes O’s and I’s, and scribbles connectedly, reads words as if they are on the paper; 3-4 years: copies, traces, spells, connects dots and writes over writing, invents spelling and READING AS IF EVERY WORD IS ON THE PAPER disconnected writing, covers the page with writing, airline ticket, know reading behaviors, imitates someone writing and reading, “K”, that’s special K.

AUTO-PHONEMIC LIKE AUTO-SYMBOLIC
CONNECTED SCRIBBLE AND GRAPHIC-PHONEMIC
DISCONNECTED
SCRIBBLE AND WRITING AS DECODING AND MAKING MEANING OF PRINT
LITERATURE BECAUSE IT TELLS A STORY, AND PHONEMIC INSTRUCTION
ORAL READING

WHY DOES AN OFFICE, STORE, POST OFFICE, OR SHOP TRIGGER WRITING AND READING? (Here are some samples)

Office
Store
Library
Supermarket
Post office
Hardware store
School office
Doctor’s office
Auto parts store
Gas station

PROPS AND TOOLS CARS/PEOPLE (as an example) - click here for pictures
Transportation theme
Wheels and gears
Machines and motors
Gravity, physical displacement
Study of motion
Spatial configurations
Mapping and arranging things backwards and forwards
Making groupings, sets, matching
Conserving mass, density, weight
Measuring, counting by ones, estimating

ADULT ROLE IN PLAY

Adults “help and guide"

Because they are more skilled

Asks for some help

Child reinvents, practices

Discrepancy between what he knows and what the wants to know

Child "locks in" the knowledge or skill..."fossilizes" and "fixes it"

 


Child “debriefs” himself

“De” automates accelerates

 

       
 
 
 

“Regresses” to the point of needing the adult again.

Ask Dr. Susan