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Early Childhood

"Sceintific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empricial Research, and Policy Implications"

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Preschoolers naturally use scientific techniques to learn about their world, from testing hypotheses against data to predicting outcomes based on statistics, according to a new report in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal Science.

Alison Gopnik, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, found children from 8 months old through preschool age think about probability and make inferences as they play and explore in a rich environment. The report suggests that making early-childhood programs more structured may actually turn young children away from this method of learning to a more passive, directed way of learning.

"There is great pressure from parents and policymakers to make preschools and early-childhood education more and more structured, more and more academic, more and more like school," she said in a press briefing. "What new science is telling us is very young children are accomplishing amazing cognitive leaps, and that push [for a more structured academic setting] may have negative effects as well as positive ones."

Vol. 32, Issue 06, Page 5

Published in Print: October 3, 2012, as Early Childhood
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