Preschoolers naturally use scientific techniques to learn about their world, from testing hypotheses against data to predicting outcomes based on statistics, according to a newin 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.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 2012 edition of Education Week as Early Childhood