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Moreover, advances in cognitive science suggest that it is not enough to be immersed in environments that offer multiple opportunities for exposure to varied and rich language experiences. Rather, the process also needs to be socially mediated through more knowledgeable persons who can impart their knowledge to the learner; again, social interaction is a critical component of cognitive development and learning.

Early childhood settings and elementary classrooms thus not only present opportunities for exposure to varied language- and literacy-rich activities whether written or spoken , but also provide a person who is expert in mediating the learning process—the educator. For example, Huttenlocher and colleagues found greater syntactic skills in preschoolers exposed to teachers who used more syntactically complex utterances. Another study found for monolingual English-speaking children that fourth-grade reading comprehension levels were predicted by exposure to sophisticated vocabulary in preschool.

In classroom studies focused on the linguistic environment, the level of analysis has involved broad measures of language use, such as amount of talk i. Dickinson and Smith, ; Jacoby and Lesaux, ; Smith and Dickinson, , or instructional moves made by the teacher e. Children are better prepared to comprehend narrative texts they encounter in school if their early language environments provide more exposure to and opportunities to participate in extended discourse.

This is because extended discourse and narrative texts share similar patterns for communicating ideas Uccelli et al. Engaging groups of children in effective extended discourse involves asking and discussing open-ended questions and encouraging turn taking, as well as monitoring the group to involve nonparticipating children Girolametto and Weitzman, In addition to using interactive storybook and text reading as a platform for back-and-forth conversations often referred to as interactive or dialogic reading, as described in the preceding section Mol et al.

These findings are consistent with the notion that to promote language learning, different inputs are needed at. Children benefit from hearing simplified speech during very early word learning Furrow et al. With more exposure to language and more advanced vocabulary development, they benefit from speech input that is more complex i. Hoff suggests that if input is too complex, children filter it out without negative consequences—as long as sufficient beneficial input is available to them.

An important consideration in light of these findings is that recent research in early childhood classrooms serving children from low-income backgrounds suggests that daily high-quality language-building experiences may be rare for these children. For example, in a Head Start organization serving large numbers of Latino children a recent observational study found a preschool environment lacking in the frequent and high-quality teacher—child language interactions that are needed to support language and literacy development Jacoby and Lesaux, Literacy instruction was highly routine based and with low-level language structures.

Extended discourse was infrequently used; only 22 percent of observed literacy-based lessons included at least one instance of extended discourse between a teacher and a child or group of children. Instead, teachers asked questions that yielded short answers or linked only to the here and now e. What is the weather today?

These features of infrequent extended discourse and predominantly routine-based literacy instruction were remarkably stable across teachers and classrooms. Other research investigating teacher talk in Head Start preschool classrooms has produced similar findings e. This is consistent with findings that there are sizable cultural and socioeconomic differences in high-quality language-promoting experiences in the home and in the classroom environment in early childhood Dickinson, ; Dickinson and Porche, ; Dickinson and Tabors, ; Raikes et al.

At the same time, for children from low-resource backgrounds oral language skills show an even stronger connection to later academic outcomes than for children from high-resource backgrounds. Given these findings, rich linguistic experiences at early ages may therefore be especially important for these children. Even small improvements in the literacy environment can have especially strong effects for children who are raised in low-income households Dearing et al.

Improving language environments for young children requires daily learning opportunities that focus on the diversity and complexity of language used with young children. Extended discourse can take place throughout all activities and in specific interactions, especially using book reading as a platform for back-and-forth conversations. Such studies could advance existing research in at least two ways. In particular, it could further elucidate how language-based social processes in the classroom affect literacy development for the many students who enter schools and other care and education settings with limited proficiency in English.

The majority of published studies focused on language-based interactions are focused on English-only learners, despite the fact that social processes can be experienced differently by different groups, even within the same setting Rogoff and Angelillo, ; Tseng and Seidman, In addition, prior research has measured a two-way process in a largely unidirectional manner—measuring speech only from parent to child or educator to student. More specifically, Justice and colleagues suggest that future research examine teacher—child language interactions in a multidimensional way to explore how syntactic complexity, cognitive demand, and even linguistic form e.

Finally, greater understanding is needed of the ways in which the classroom language processes described in this section might act as a foundational mediator of the efficacy of interventions focused on learning outcomes in other domains and subject areas. This study also found that children with advanced language skills will receive greater benefits from interacting with peers who also have advanced language skills Mashburn et al.

In order to achieve these benefits, however, the preschool classrooms need to be designed so that peers can interact with one another, and include activities such as reading books and engaging in play together. Children with teachers who organize the day with optimal amounts of time for peer-to-peer interactions may achieve greater language growth Mashburn et al. For children whose home language is not the predominant language of their school, educators and schools need to ensure the development of English proficiency.

At the same time, children can be helped to both build and maintain their first language while adding language and literacy skills in English Espinosa, In support of this as a long-term goal are the potential advantages of being bilingual, including maintaining a cultural and linguistic heritage and conferring an advantage in the ability to communicate with a broader population in future social, educational, and work environments. Additionally, an emerging field of research, albeit with mixed results to date, explores potential advantages of being bilingual that are linked more directly to cognitive development, starting in early childhood and extending to preserving cognitive function and delaying the symptoms of dementia in the elderly Bialystok, ; de Bruin et al.

Bilingual or multilingual children are faced with more communicative challenges than their monolingual peers. A child who frequently experiences failure to be understood or to understand may be driven to pay more attention to context, paralinguistic cues, and gestures in order to interpret an utterance, and thus become better at reading such cues. The result may be improved development of theory of mind and understanding of pragmatics Yow and Markman, a,b.

In addition, the need to continually suppress one language for another affords ongoing practice in inhibitory or executive control, which could confer advantages on a range of inhibitory control tasks in children and helps preserve this fundamental ability in aging adults Bialystok, ; Bialystok and Craik, ; Bialystok et al.

One challenge in the education of dual language learners is that they sometimes are classified along with children with special needs.

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One reason for this is the lack of good assessment tools to help distinguish the nature of the difficulties experienced by dual language learners—whether due to a learning disability or to the fact that learning a second language is difficult, takes time, and develops differently in different children Hamayan et al. More information about this study can be found at www. Mathematics knowledge in preschool predicts mathematics achievement even into high school National Mathematics Advisory Panel, ; NRC, ; Stevenson and Newman, Mathematics ability and language ability also are interrelated as mutually reinforcing skills Duncan et al.

Indeed, mathematical thinking reaches beyond competence with numbers and shapes to form a foundation for general cognition and learning Clements and Sarama, ; Sarama et al. Mathematics therefore appears to be a core subject and a core component of thinking and learning Duncan and Magnuson, ; Duncan et al. Given its general importance to academic success Sadler and Tai, , children need a robust foundation in mathematics knowledge in their earliest years.

Multiple analyses suggest that mathematics learning should begin early, especially for children at risk for later difficulties in school Byrnes and Wasik, ; Clements and Sarama, Well before first grade, children can learn the skills and concepts that support more complex mathematics understanding later. Particularly important areas of mathematics for young children to learn include number, which includes whole number, operations, and relations; geometry; spatial thinking; and measurement.

Children also need to develop proficiency in processes for both general and specific mathematical reasoning NRC, If given opportunities to learn, young children possess a remarkably broad, complex, and sophisticated—albeit informal—knowledge of mathematics Baroody, ; Clarke et al. In their free play, almost all preschoolers engage in substantial amounts of premathematical activity.

They count objects; compare magnitudes; and explore patterns, shapes, and spatial relations. Preschoolers can also, for example, learn to invent solutions to simple arithmetic problems Sarama and Clements, High-quality mathematics education can help children realize their potential in mathematics achievement Doig et al. However, without such education starting, and continuing throughout, the early years, many children will be on a trajectory in which they will have great difficulty catching up to their peers Rouse et al.

As discussed further in Chapter 6 , early childhood classrooms typically are ill suited to helping children learn mathematics and underestimate their ability to do so. In some cases, children can even experience a regression on some mathematics skills during prekindergarten and kindergarten Farran et al.

Mathematics needs to be conceptualized as more than. Without building a robust understanding of mathematics in the early years, children too often come to believe that math is a guessing game and a system of rules without reason Munn, Both education and experience can make a difference, as evidenced by data from the latest international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which added data collection on early mathematics education Mullis et al.

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Students with higher mathematics achievement at fourth and sixth grades had parents who reported that they often engaged their children in early numeracy activities and that their children had attended preprimary education and started school able to do early numeracy tasks e. Those children who had attended preschool or kindergarten had higher achievement, while the 13 percent who had attended no preprimary school had much lower average mathematics achievement Mullis et al.

Children move through a developmental progression in specific mathematical domains, which informs learning trajectories as important tools for supporting learning and teaching. Box illustrates the concept of a developmental progression through the example of subitizing , an oft-neglected mathematical goal for young children. Research shows that subitizing, the rapid and accurate recognition of the number in a small group, is one of the main abilities very young children should develop Palmer and Baroody, ; Reigosa-Crespo et al.

Through subitizing, children can discover critical properties of number, such as conservation and compensation Clements and Sarama, ; Maclellan, and develop such capabilities as unitizing and arithmetic. Subitizing is not the only way children think and learn about number. Counting is the other method of quantification. It is the first and most basic mathematical algorithm and one of the more critical early mathematics competencies Aunola et al. Chapter 6 includes examples from a complete learning trajectory—goal, developmental progression, and instructional activities—for counting Clements and Sarama, For example, very young children possess approximate number systems ANSs that allow them to discriminate large and small sets, determining, for example, whether there are more white or gray dots in the figure below.

Six-month-olds can discriminate a 1: Subitizing involves determining and explicitly identifying the exact number of items in a small set. Subitizing ability develops in a stepwise fashion. Between 35 and 37 months, they differentiate between 1 and 2, but not larger numbers. A few months later, at 38 to 40 months, they can identify 3 as well. After about 42 months, they can identify all numbers that they can count, 4 and higher, at about the same time. However, research in natural, child-initiated settings shows that the development of these abilities can occur much earlier, with children working on 1 and 2 around their second birthday or earlier Mix et al.

Babies in the first 6 months of life, and even earlier, can discriminate 1 object from 2, and 2 objects from 3 Antell and Keating, ; Wynn et al. Thus, even infants can discriminate among and match small configurations of objects, only for these small numbers. Because children cannot discriminate 4 objects from 5 or 6 until the age of about 3 years, some researchers have suggested that infants use an automatic perceptual process that people, including adults, can apply only to small collections up to around 4 objects Chi and Klahr, A developmental progression moves from foundational but pre-explicit quantification to explicit naming of small quantities.

This initially involves only perceptual subitizing Clements, ; Kaufman et al. From their second to third birthdays, most children can name sets of 1 and 2, and then 3 soon thereafter Mix et al. Larger sets are perceived, quantified, and quickly named as the child gains experience. Perceptual subitizing also plays the role of unit-.

Then a qualitative advance is made as conceptual subitizing develops.

This involves similarly quantifying 2 parts separately and then combining them, again, quickly, accurately, and without being explicitly aware of the cognitive processing Clements, ; see empirical evidence for such processes in Trick and Pylyshyn, Many theories have been advanced to explain the subitizing process Baroody et al. A synthesis suggests the following model. The ANS serves as a transition between general, approximate notions of number and one based on an exact, abstract, mental model.

Infants quantify collections of rigid objects not sequences of sounds or materials that are nonrigid and noncohesive such as water Huntley-Fenner et al. These quantifications begin as an undifferentiated, innate notion of amount of objects. Object individuation, which occurs early in preattentive processing and is a general, not numerical-only, process , helps lay the groundwork for differentiating discrete from continuous quantity.

For example, by about 6 months of age, infants may represent very small numbers 1 or 2 as individuated objects. To compare quantities, they process correspondences. Initially, these are inexact estimates, depending on the ratio between the sets Johnson-Pynn et al. Once children can represent objects mentally, they also can make exact correspondences between these nonverbal representations and eventually develop a quantitative notion of that comparison e.

Even these correspondences, however, do not imply a cardinal representation of the collection. To complete the subitizing process, children must make word—word mappings between numbers e. They then label small number situations with the corresponding number word, mapping the number word to the numerosity property of the collection. That is, they begin to establish what mathematicians call a numerical equivalence class.

The construction of such schemes probably depends on guiding frameworks and principles developed through interactions with others, such as parents and educators. Activities such as teachers challenging students to name the number of dots in a display shown only for seconds have resulted in substantial growth in this ability Baroody et al. Subitizing ability is not merely a low-level, innate process, but develops considerably and combines with other mental processes.

Even though they are limited, subitizing capabilities appear to form a foundation for later connection to culturally based cognitive tools such as number words and the number word sequence and the development of exact and extended number concepts and skills. Functional magnetic resonance imaging and other studies have shown that a neural component of numerical cognition present in the early years may be the foundation for later symbolic numerical development Cantlon et al.

Subitizing appears to precede and support the development of counting ability and arithmetic skills Eimeren et al. Children who cannot subitize conceptually are handicapped in learning such arithmetic processes. Those who can subitize may be limited to doing so with small numbers at first, but such actions are useful stepping stones to the construction of more sophisticated procedures with larger numbers.

Indeed, lack of this competence may underlie mathematics learning disabilities and difficulties Ashkenazi et al. Children from low-resource communities and those with special needs often lag in subitizing ability, hindering their mathematical development Butterworth, ; Chu et al. Adapted with permission from Clements and Sarama, , and Sarama and Clements, Children with special needs in learning mathematics fall into two categories.

Those with mathematical difficulties struggle to learn mathematics for any reason; this category may apply to as many as percent of students Berch and Mazzocco, Those with specific mathematics learning disabilities are more severe cases; these students have a memory or cognitive deficit that interferes with their ability to learn math Geary, This category may apply to about percent Berch and Mazzocco, ; Mazzocco and Myers, In one study, this classification persisted in third grade for 63 percent of those classified as having mathematics learning disabilities in kindergarten Mazzocco and Myers, One consistent finding is that students with mathematics learning disabilities have difficulty retrieving basic arithmetic facts quickly.

This has been hypothesized to be the result of an inability to store or retrieve facts and impairments in visual-spatial representation. As early as kindergarten, limited working memory and speed of cognitive processing may be problems for these children Geary et al. Many young children with learning disabilities in reading show a similar rapid-naming deficit for letters and words Siegel and Mazabel, ; Steacy et al. Another possibility is that a lack of higher-order, or executive, control of verbal material causes difficulty learning basic arithmetic facts or combinations. For example, students with mathematics learning disabilities may have difficulty inhibiting irrelevant associations.

One explanation for the difficulty students with mathematics learning disabilities have learning basic arithmetic combinations might be delays in understanding counting. These students may not fully understand counting nor recognize errors in counting as late as second grade. Other experts, however, claim that a lack of specific competencies, such as subitizing, is more important Berch and Mazzocco, Some evidence suggests that it is possible to predict which kindergartners are at risk for mathematics learning disabilities based on skill including reading numerals, number constancy, magnitude judgments of one-digit numbers, or mental addition of one-digit numbers Mazzocco and Thompson, However, until more is known, students should be classified as having mathematics learning disabilities only with great caution and.

Such labeling in the earliest years could do more harm than good Clements and Sarama, It can appear that language is less of a concern in mathematics compared to other subjects because it is assumed to be based on numbers or symbols, but this is not the case Clements et al. In fact, children learn math mainly from oral language, rather than from mathematical symbolism or textbooks Janzen, Vocabulary and knowledge of print are both predictors of later numeracy Purpura et al. Similarly, growth in mathematics from kindergarten to third grade is related to both early numerical skills and phonological processing Vukovic, In one study of linguistically and ethnically diverse children aged years, language ability predicted gains in geometry, probability, and data analysis but not in arithmetic or algebra controlling for reading ability, visual—spatial working memory, and gender Vukovic and Lesaux, Thus, language may affect how children make meaning of mathematics but not its complex arithmetic procedures.

Moreover, there is an important bidirectional relationship between learning in mathematics and language Sarama et al. Each has related developmental milestones. Children learn number words at the same time as other linguistic labels. Most children recognize by the age of 2 which words are for numbers and use them only in appropriate contexts Fuson, Each also has related developmental patterns, with learning progressing along similar paths.

In both, children recognize the whole before its parts. In learning language, this is word before syllable, syllable before rime-onset, and rime-onset before phoneme see also Anthony et al. Similarly in mathematics, numbers are first conceptualized as unbreakable categories and then later as composites e.

By 6 years old in most cultures, children have been exposed to symbol representations that are both alphabetic and numerical, and they begin to be able to segment words into phonemes and numbers into singletons e. The ability to identify the component nature of words and numbers predicts the ability to read Adams, ; Stanovich and Siegel, and to compute Geary, , In addition to these similarities in typical developmental pathways, many children with learn-. Furthermore, there appear to be shared competencies between the two subject areas.

Beginning mathematics scores have been shown to be highly predictive of subsequent achievement in both reading and mathematics although beginning reading skills such as letter recognition, word identification, and word sounds were shown to be highly predictive of later reading advanced competencies such as evaluation but not mathematics learning Duncan et al. Building Blocks children performed the same as the children in the control group on letter recognition and on three oral language subscales but outperformed them on four subscales: These skills had no explicit relation to the math curriculum.

Similarly, a study of 5- to 7-year-olds showed that an early mathematics and logical-mathematical intervention increased later scores in English by 14 percentile points Shayer and Adhami, Time on task or time on instruction does affect learning, which naturally leads to consideration of potential conflicts or tradeoffs between time spent on different subjects e.

However, this assumes that mathematics activities will not have a positive effect on language and literacy. Yet as described here, evidence from both educational and psychological research suggests the potential for high-quality instruction in each to have mutual benefits for learning in both subjects. Rich mathematical activities, such as discussing multiple solutions and solving narrative story problems, can help lay the groundwork for literacy through language development, while rich literacy activities can help lay the groundwork for mathematics development Sarama et al.

For mathematics learning in children who are dual language learners, the language, not just the vocabulary, of mathematics need to be addressed Clements and Sarama, Challenges for dual language learners include both technical vocabulary, which can range in how similar or distinct terms are from everyday language, and the use of complex noun phrases.

On the other hand, bilingual children often can understand a mathematical idea more readily because, after using different terms for it in different languages, they comprehend that the mathematical idea is abstract, and not tied to a specific term see Secada, At a minimum, their teachers need to connect everyday language with the language of math Janzen, Instructional practices for teaching mathematics with dual language learners are discussed further in Chapter 6.

For subject-matter content knowledge and proficiency, children learn best when supported along a trajectory with three components: Some principles of how children learn along a trajectory hold across subject-matter domains, but there are also substantive differences among subjects in the specific skills children need and in the learning trajectories. Both generalizable principles and subject-specific distinctions have implications for the knowledge and competencies needed to work with children.

These general learning competencies have been labeled and categorized in various ways. This section examines these competencies as well as their interrelationships with the previously discussed subject-matter domains of language and literacy and mathematics. Several cognitive control processes are important for planning and executing goal-directed activity, which is needed for successful learning e.

These processes include, for example, short-term and working memory, attention control and shifting, cognitive flexibility changing thinking between different concepts and thinking about multiple concepts simultaneously , inhibitory control suppressing unproductive responses or strategies , and cognitive self-regulation.


Other theoretical frameworks exist as well. As with the overall domains of development displayed earlier in Figure , the committee did not attempt to reconcile those different perspectives. This variation in perspectives makes it difficult to parse the literature produced by different fields of research and practice. In general, however, executive function appears to improve most rapidly in young children Best et al.

Executive function processes appear to be partially dependent on the development of the prefrontal cortex the site of higher-order cognitive processes , notably through the preschool and kindergarten age range Bassett et al. Short-term memory is the ability for short-term recall, such as of a sentence or important details from conversation and reading. Working memory allows children to hold in their memory information from multiple sources, whether heard or read, so they can use and link that information.

Updating working memory is the ability to keep and use relevant information while engaging in another cognitively demanding task Conway et al. Attention control is the ability to focus attention and disregard distracting stimuli e. Attention shifting and cognitive flexibility are often grouped. Cognitive flexibility is important, for example, for reading Duke and Block, Children who are better able to consider, at the same time, both letter-sound and semantic meaning information about words have better reading comprehension Cartwright, ; Cartwright et al.

Reading comprehension also appears to improve when children are taught about words with multiple meanings e. In addition, interventions in young children that focus on cognitive flexibility have shown significant benefits for reading comprehension Cartwright, Inhibitory control involves controlling a dominant response e. The skill of simple response inhibition withholding an initial, sometimes impulsive, response develops during infancy through toddlerhood.

Infants also develop some control of cognitive conflict in tasks in which an. Later in their first year, children can resolve conflict between their line of sight and their line of reaching Diamond, By about 30 months, they can successfully complete a spatial conflict task Rothbart and Rueda, From 3 to 5 years of age, complex response inhibition and response shifting develop, with attention shifting developing at about age 4 Bassett et al.

The most rapid increase in inhibitory control is between 5 and 8 years of age, although moderate improvements are seen up to young adulthood Best et al. As one example of its importance for mathematics, when the initial reading of a problem is not the correct one, children need to inhibit their impulse to answer incorrectly and carefully examine the problem.

Consider the following problem: Three birds already flew away. How many birds were there from the start? Cognitive self-regulation is what helps children plan ahead, focus attention, and remember past experiences. The construct of self-regulation and related concepts have a long history in psychology e. Most recently, researchers and educators have used the broad term self-regulation to refer to the processes involved in intentionally controlling attention, thinking, impulses, emotions, and behavior. In this way, self-regulation can be thought of in relation to several aspects of development, including the cognitive processes discussed here and the social and emotional processes discussed later in this chapter.

Developmental psychobiological research and neuroimaging indicate that these subclasses are both neurally and behaviorally distinct while also being related and correlated Bassett et al. Together, these types of self-regulation allow children to persevere with tasks even when facing difficulties in problem solving or learning, fatigue, distraction, or decreased motivation Blair and Razza, ; Neuenschwander et al.

It is thus unsurprising that. Both cognitive self-regulation and emotional self-regulation discussed later in this chapter contribute to socioemotional development and also play a role in learning.

History of childhood

Although the relationship between various features of cognitive self-regulation and academic achievement has been well documented for older students e. First, emotional self-regulation enables children to benefit from learning in various social contexts, including their capacities to manage emotions in interactions with educators as well as peers e. It also assists them in conforming to classroom rules and routines. Second, cognitive self-regulation enables children to develop and make use of cognitive processes that are necessary for academic learning Anghel, Although most studies have focused on specific effects of either cognitive or emotional self-regulation, evidence suggests that the two are interconnected.

This link is probably due to the commonality of the neurological mechanisms governing both emotional and cognitive self-regulation. For example, children lacking emotion regulation are likely also to have problems with regulating cognitive processes, such as attention Derryberry and Reed, ; LeDoux, Several studies have shown positive correlations between self-regulation and achievement in young children e.

In another study, children with higher self-regulation, including attention, working memory, and inhibitory control, achieved at higher levels in literacy, language, and mathematics McClelland et al. Interventions in the area of self-regulation have shown positive effects for reading achievement Best et al. Among struggling first graders in an effective reading intervention, those who were retained in grade showed significantly weaker self-regulation skills Dombek and Connor, In addition, both cognitive and emotional self-regulation contribute to variance in attention, competence motivation, and persistence Bassett et al.

In addition, differences in self-regulation competencies raise important issues related to disparities in educational achievement. Children in poverty can have lower self-regulation competencies e. One reason is the effect of chronic stress on behavioral and biological capacities for self-control see discussion of chronic stress and adversity later in this chapter. This risk is exacerbated for children who are also dual language learners Wanless et al. Students with special needs are another population who may require focused interventions to develop self-regulation competencies Harris et al.

Students who are gifted and talented may also have exceptional needs in this domain e. Adults who work with children have the opportunity to provide environments, experiences, and curricula that can help develop the competencies needed, including for children whose skills were not optimally developed in the earliest years.

The science of how children develop and learn indicates that integrating academic learning and self-regulation is a sound approach. As already noted and shown in several examples, executive function processes are closely related to achievement in both language and literacy and mathematics Best et al. In some research, executive function has been correlated similarly with both reading and mathematics achievement across a wide age span 5 to 17 years , suggesting its significant role in academic.

In contrast, some studies have found that executive function is more strongly associated with mathematics than with literacy or language Barata, ; Blair et al. A strong relationship between executive function and mathematics may reflect that mathematics relies heavily on working memory and attention control, requiring the ability to inhibit an automatic response to a single aspect of a problem, to hold relevant information in mind, and to operate on it while shifting attention appropriately among different elements of a problem Welsh et al. This relationship is especially important given that mathematics curricula increasingly require higher-order skills, which executive function competencies provides Baker et al.

Some research indicates that most executive function competencies correlate significantly with mathematics achievement Bull and Scerif, , while other studies suggest a greater role for particular executive function competencies in the learning of mathematics for young children—especially inhibitory control Blair and Razza, or working memory Bull et al.

These latter two competencies have been shown to predict success in mathematics in primary school students Toll et al. Working memory tasks have also been shown to predict mathematics learning disabilities, even more so than early mathematical abilities Toll et al. Several studies have identified lack of inhibition and working memory as specific deficits for children of lower mathematical ability, resulting in difficulty with switching to and evaluating new strategies for dealing with a particular task Bull and Scerif [] and Lan and colleagues [] found similar results.

Persistence, another learning skill that is interrelated with cognitive processes, also has been linked to mathematics achievement for both 3- and 4-year-olds Maier and Greenfield, Executive function competencies may be differentially associated with distinct areas of mathematics. For example, executive function was found to be correlated more with solving word problems than with calculation Best et al. Different aspects of working memory also may be related to different mathematical areas Simmons et al. Parallel observations have been made for executive function and reading, with executive function playing a larger role in reading comprehension than in decoding.

In addition to the role of executive function in learning mathematics, mathematics activities also contribute to developing executive function. Some mathematics activities may require children to suppress prepotent. Importantly, neuroimaging studies suggest that executive function may be developed through learning mathematics in challenging activities but not in exercising mathematics once learned Ansari et al.

Some students with special needs may have a specific lack of certain executive function competencies Harris et al. Most of the research on executive function deficits in relation to disabilities that affect young children has focused on specific disorders, particularly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD. An early theory posited that ADHD is a lack of the behavioral inhibition required for proficiency with executive functions such as self-regulation of affect, motivation, and arousal; working memory; and synthesis analysis of internally represented information Barkley, A meta-analysis of studies of one measure of executive function, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, suggests that the performance of individuals with ADHD is fairly consistently poorer than that of individuals without clinical diagnoses Romine et al.

In another study, children with ADHD were found not to have learning problems but rather problems in a measure of inhibitory control, which affected arithmetic calculation as well as written language Semrud-Clikeman, Other evidence suggests that children diagnosed with ADHD may have deficits not in executive processes themselves but in motivation or response to contingencies, that is, the regulation of effort allocation Huang-Pollock et al.

Having ADHD with deficits in executive function, compared to ADHD alone, is associated with an increased risk for grade retention and a decrease in academic achievement Biederman et al. The relationship between ADHD and executive functions may also depend on subtype. One study found that children with an inattention ADHD subtype showed deficits in several executive function competencies Tymms and Merrell, , whereas children with the hyperactive-impulsive ADHD subtype may have fewer executive function deficits Shuai et al. Deficits in executive function have been studied in other developmental disorders as well, albeit often in less detail.

Romine and Reynolds, ; and mathematics learning disabilities Toll et al. Other learning skills that are important to early academic achievement include persistence, curiosity, self-confidence, intrinsic motivation, time perspective e. The growth of emotional and cognitive self-regulation is also fundamentally related to many of these developing learning skills. In addition, social experiences, discussed later in this chapter, are important for the growth of these learning skills. Note also that although these skills are referred to sometimes as dispositions, they are fostered through early experience and can be supported through intentional caregiving and instructional practices; they are not simply intrinsic traits in the child.


As a consequence, very young children are likely to approach new learning situations with enthusiasm and self-confidence but at young ages may not necessarily bring persistence or creativity in confronting and solving challenging problems. Older preschoolers, by contrast, are more self-regulated learners. They approach new learning opportunities with initiative and involvement, and they are more persistent and more likely to solve problems creatively, by proposing their own ideas NRC, Considerable research confirms the importance of these skills to early learning.

Similarly, these characteristics continue to be associated with reading and mathematics achievement in the early elementary grades Alexander et al. Differences in these learning skills are especially associated with academic achievement for children in circumstances of economic disadvantage who face various kinds of self-regulatory challenges Blair and Raver, ; Howse et al. Much of school success requires that children prioritize longer-term rewards requiring current effort over immediate satisfactions.

The classic demonstration of this skill comes from a series of studies led by Walter Mischel beginning in the s. Young children were offered the option of choosing an immediate, smaller reward or a larger reward if they waited to receive it later. For several years developmental outcomes for these children were tracked, which revealed that children who were better able to delay gratification at age 4 scored higher on measures of language skills, academic achievement, planful behaviors, self-reliance, capacity to cope with stress and frustration, and social competence measured in adolescence and adulthood Mischel et al.

Other studies have reported consistent findings. The ways that children view themselves as learners are also important. There was also evidence in this study that expectations were especially influential for academically at-risk students Hinnant et al. Messages from parents and educators are also important in shaping how children attribute their own success and failure which, in turn, predicts their future effort and expectations of success. Children develop implicit theories in the early years about who they are as a person and what it means to be intelligent.

Some children come to view intelligence as a fixed trait. In contrast, children receiving messages that intelligence is stable and cannot be improved through hard work are discouraged from pursuing difficult tasks, particularly if they view their abilities as low Heyman and Dweck, These perceptions and patterns of motivation can be especially significant as children learn academic subjects, such as mathematics Clements and Sarama, People in the United States have many negative beliefs and attitudes about mathematics Ashcraft, One deeply embedded cultural belief is that achievement in mathematics depends mainly on native aptitude or ability rather than effort.

Research shows that the belief in the primacy of native ability hurts students and, further, it is simply untrue. Researchers have estimated that students should be successful about 70 percent of the time to maximize motivation Middleton and Spanias, If students are directly assured that working hard to figure out problems, including making errors and being frustrated, are part of the learning process it can diminish feelings of embarrassment and other negative emotions at being incorrect.

In addition, students will build positive feelings about mathematics if they experience it as a sense-making activity. Most young students are motivated to explore numbers and shapes and have positive feelings about mathematics Middleton and Spanias, However, after only a couple of years in typical schools, they begin to believe that only some people have the ability to do math. A related pattern relating perceptions and emotions to learning is seen with students who experience mathematics anxiety. Primary grade students who have strong math anxiety, even alongside strong working memory, have been found to have lower mathematics achievement because working memory capacity is co-opted by math anxiety Beilock, ; Ramirez et al.

Early identification and treatment of math anxiety may prevent children with high potential from avoiding mathematics and mathematics courses Ramirez et al. The development of social and emotional competence is an important part of child development and early learning. Socioemotional competence has been described as a multidimensional construct that contributes to the ability to understand and manage emotions and behavior; to make decisions and achieve goals; and to establish and maintain positive relationships, including feeling and showing empathy for others.

Although their importance is widely recognized, universal agreement is lacking on how to categorize and define these areas of development. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning offers a summary construct with five interrelated groups of competencies that together encompass the areas typically considered to be part of socioemotional competence see Figure A growing body of research addresses the relationship between dimensions of socioemotional competence and cognitive and other skills related to early learning and later academic achievement Bierman et al.

Socioemotional development early in life also increasingly is understood to be critically important for later mental well-being, and for contributing to subsequent mental health problems when there are enduring disturbances in socioemotional functions IOM and NRC, ; Leckman and March, There are several reasons why socioemotional development is important to early learning and academic success.

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As discussed in detail later in this section, early learning is a social activity in which these skills are important to the interactions through which learning occurs and is collaboratively shared. Socioemotional competence gives children the capacity to engage in academic tasks by increasing their ability to interact constructively with teachers, work collaboratively with and learn from peers, and dedicate sustained attention to learning Denham and Brown, Further, behavioral and emotional problems not only impede early learning but also pose other risks to long-term success.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning http: Thus attention to socioemotional competence also is important from the perspective of addressing early emerging behavior problems before they become more serious. A variety of evidence-based approaches can be implemented to strengthen socioemotional competence for young children Domitrovich et al. Importantly, as discussed further in Chapter 6 , these strategies can be incorporated into daily classroom practice to provide children with everyday socioemotional learning. As noted earlier in the discussion of self-regulation, socioemotional competencies contribute to the development of relationships with parents, educators, and peers.

The development of positive relationships enables young children to participate constructively in learning experiences that are inherently social. A secure parent—child attachment is widely recognized as foundational for healthy development, and the evolving understanding of the importance of attachment encompasses research in developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience as discussed in Chapter 3 Schore and Schore, ; Thompson, Research has shown that securely attached children receive more sensitively responsive parental care, and in turn develop greater social skills with adults and peers and greater social and emotional understanding of others, show more advanced moral development, and have a more positive self-concept see Thompson, , for a review.

Securely attached children also have been found to be more advanced in cognitive and language development and to show greater achievement in school de Ruiter and van IJzendoorn, ; van Ijzendoorn et al. This association has been found for infants, preschool-age children, and older children, suggesting that it is fairly robust. The mediators that have been studied include the following:. As with their parents and other caregivers, children develop attachments to their educators, and the quality of those relationships has a significant and potentially enduring influence on their classroom success Hamre and Pianta, In one study, preschoolers identified as academically at risk based on demographic characteristics and reports of problems by their kindergarten teachers were followed to the end of first grade Hamre and Pianta, The children with first-grade teachers who provided high amounts of instructional and emotional support had achievement scores comparable to those of their low-risk peers.

Support was measured by teacher behaviors such as verbal comments promoting effort, persistence, and mastery; conversations using open-ended questions; encouragement of child responsibility; sensitivity; and a positive classroom climate. Children who develop more positive relationships with their teachers in kindergarten are more positive about attending school, more excited about learning, and more self-confident. A positive relationship with educators may be especially important for children who are at risk of academic difficulty because such a relationship can provide support for self-confidence and classroom involvement Pianta et al.

A similar association is seen for peer relationships. There was nothing that could compare to the satisfaction I felt after completing a story, a poem or a play. My love of and interest in writing was not something natural in my family environment. I always believed writing was in my blood. And as an adoptee when I learned who my birth father was, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was a writer, a teacher…and also a Catholic priest surprise, surprise.

25 Amazing Books by African-American Writers You Need to Read | Mental Floss

Although I earned an income as a writer newspaper, public relations and advertising I devoted many hours to writing fiction and non-fiction…and articles, essays and think pieces. Imagine if Woody Allen had been born Catholic, he might have written this book. Then again, he might not have written it.

Nonetheless, Day Old Donuts is a look at the world from someone who was born and raised a Catholic. Random Acts of Writing — Lost in Space. Detached from Time…for Children, Vol. This volume contains short stories and plays for children written over the past 25 years. I began writing at a young age. Missing Links — While this non-fiction book is all about my search for my birth parents, I intended it to be more than that. Of course I wanted it to have both mass appeal for all those involved in the adoption triangle: In the end, once a book is written it no longer belongs to the author, it belongs to the reader.

The only part of this book that I maintain to this day is the theme: Amazon Print Barnes and Noble Print. Without knowing it, because I had not yet immersed myself in a serious study of myth, fairy tale, fable and folklore, I actually wrote a book that contained some of the essential ingredients found in the classic fairy tale. Ignoring the admonition given to writers — write what you know about, I decided to tell my story, using characters of another race.

The Burton and Van Duzer Family History — Part genealogy, part local history and part narrative non-fiction, this book tells the story of two families: The Burtons and the Van Duzers. I wrote it at the request of Leila Burton Luce. Amazon Print Available from the author Vincent Begley.