Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Should I help my toddler to do things - or let her discover her own way?

When given simplified tasks based on familiar experiences, preschoolers show the beginnings of logical thinking.  Preschoolers have some logical understanding, which suggests that they attain logical operations gradually.  So logical thinking is flexible development in which a related set of competencies develop over an extended time period. Scaffolding your child’s development is an effective way of helping them succeed on tasks and concepts that are new to them. So what is scaffolding?  Think of it as a way to apprentice your young child – to help them to do things with your help – that they could not do alone.

Researchers found that mother-child discussion about essential and distinguishing features of the animals, and mothers’ specific instructions contributed to their child’s skill  in drawing.  Interestingly, children often incorporated features of their mother’s drawings into their own pictures. This finding highlights a source of learning that children may not have when drawing by themselves. Although some aspects of mother-child discussion (such as talking about essential features) seemed to influence children’s drawings, other interactions did not have an effect. For example, general discussion about adding more details and basic labels for pictures did not result in more sophisticated drawings, perhaps because children are unfamiliar with these ideas.  

Another interesting finding was that children who were at a basic level of drawing, who drew mostly simple animals, were more likely to modify their drawings following mom’s advice than were more skilled artists. One explanation for this is that the more skilled children may have the cognitive and motor skills necessary to integrate features of another person’s drawing into their own drawings. They have already mastered the skills for drawing basic forms, and are ready to draw more complex features.

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Braswell, G. S., & Callanan, M. A. (2003). Learning to draw recognizable graphic representations during mother–child interactions. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 471–494.

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