Children under 4 learn from teachers and each other
|Date:||November 26, 2009|
For the research, a group of thirty children in four different preschools were each given a vest with wireless recording equipment to wear. This enabled the researcher to register their natural behaviour for a year and a half in audio and video. The research focused on how young children learn school routines. The starting point was that interactions can offer a good context for language development and language use development as well as for socio-emotional development and cognitive development in general.
Language changes with the situation
Young children turn out to use different activities to learn different ways of using language. Deunk discovered that children use more complex language when interacting with their playfellows and during pretend play than when communicating with the teacher. When interacting with each other, the children mainly learn to use language themselves; in interaction with the teacher they are usually learning how to join in with school activities.
The older they are, the more complex the game
The analyses in the research concentrate on the activities ‘pretend play’, ‘spontaneous conversations about literacy’, ‘borrowing a book’ and ‘doing a crafts assignment’. Pretend play is not controlled in a preschool situation. As children get older, their pretend play becomes more complex and thus also the language they use during the games. Doing a crafts activity, on the other hand, is a structured school activity. This activity is an important preparation for participation in later situations where children must perform a school task.
Stimulating budding literacy
The two other activities refer to budding literacy in a relatively ‘free’ and a more structured situation. In ‘spontaneous conversations about literacy’, the child is involved in an activity where reading, writing and books are discussed naturally. This could be, for example, when a child has done a drawing and the teacher then writes its name on it. The teacher can stimulate budding literacy by emphasizing the writing of the name and its usefulness. With the ‘borrowing a book’ activity, literacy is not only stimulated by children regularly reading books, but also by them learning how to borrow a book. In order to make optimum use of this activity, preschool teachers could expand the borrowing activity by talking more about the content of the book or by reading some of it out loud and involving the child in the registration of the borrowing.
The results of Deunk’s research contribute to our understanding of how children learn in their social environment. It also contributes to the growing awareness of school routines in which children learn to participate and of spontaneous moments of literacy in the preschool situation. This is important for the further professionalization of teachers and the development of programmes for early childhood education.
Marjolein Deunk (Haarlem, 1979) will be awarded a PhD by the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen on 3 December 2009. Her thesis is entitled ‘Discourse Practices in Preschool. Young Children’s Participation in Everyday Classroom Activities’. Her supervisor is Prof. C.M. de Glopper. The research was funded by the Dutch Programme Council for Educational Research, part of NWO.
Note for the editor
Contact: Marjolein Deunk, 050–363 9118 (work), email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Last modified:||November 01, 2012 14:31|