1. Why is important to help children develop cognitive skills during the preschool year?
According to Rike, Izumi-Taylor, and Moberly (2008), it is the richness of a child’s experiences that directly affects the development of the brain. They say: “[R]ecent brain and educational research clearly shows these neural pathways can be made richer and stronger through appropriate early care and challenging experiences that take place in carefully designed, nourishing environments” (p. 23). The learning centers you arranged according to ideas in Chapter 3 have set the stage. The activities you and the children carry out can provide the experiences.
2. How do children use their senses to explore the world around them?
Preschool children are born explorers. Even as infants, they come with all the necessary equipment to be great discoverers: inquisitive eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, lips, ears, fingers, and toes. In addition to such an array of sensory apparatus, each child also starts out with a strong natural drive or curiosity to put this equipment to good use. They want to find out about everything. Young children are forever trying to poke, pry, bite, chew, lick, rub, pinch, sniff, stare at, listen to, or examine playfully in great detail any object or situation they come into contact with. As noted in Chapter 3, we call this initial investigation of new things manipulation.
3. What can we do to reawaken the curiosity of children who seem ti have lost their sense of wonder?
Planning activities to promote this important characteristic. Find ways to motivate uninterested children in as many of these activities as possible. Bringing in several pieces of tree bark you have found: a piece of sycamore bark (this tree sheds its bark periodically), a piece of maple bark, a piece of shagbark hickory bark, or any one of a number of other tree barks (e.g., white birch, willow, cottonwood, or pine). Keeping track on a children curiosity checklist of each child who notices these new items, asks questions about them, or handles them. When several children have shown this interest, gather these youngsters into a small group in your science discovery center along with one or two other children who have shown little interest.
4. How can field trips to nearby locations promote cognitive development?
The immediate environment of the center offers unlimited opportunities for children to explore and discover.
Humphryes (2000) suggests, “Observation excursions are fun with all ages of children. While out in a natural setting like your backyard or playground, ask the children to observe one selected item, such as a stream, a one-square-foot microcosm (use a string to mark this), or a cloud, for five minutes. Then ask them: Is it alive? How do you know? What does it feel like? Does it move? What does it do? If you kept it, what would happen? If you stepped on it, what would happen?”
Field trips need not be elaborate, all-day, long-distance affairs. Brief ventures out or around the building are best because this is the environment the children are most directly involved with and want to find out about. Their own personal environment is always more meaningful to children than a visit to a remote and distant site they may never see again.
5. How can you follow up on children’s science interests with materials in the classroom? Give specific examples.
• Bringing in a container of bottled water from the supermarket for her Discovery Center
• Field trips.
• Making a natural filter in a flower pot with blotting paper, sand, and gravel.
• using an aquarium pump and filter to clean the water
6.What do the concepts of size, shape, color, and number have to do with children’s cognitive development?
Children’s brains seem to pay special attention to the relationships between things. The concept of size is one of those...