Young children play all the time. At least, this is what we hope they will do. However, as parents, we should remind ourselves that as children play, they are also undergoing an immensely important part of early life: learning.
Why do learning and play go hand-in-hand? As the human brain goes through rapid development during the early stages of life, young children quickly build up the capacity for cognitive skills and social-emotional development. This suggests that the earlier parents can engage their children in play, the greater advantage children can gain before formal school.
The long term impact of early education has been explored in many research studies. For example, the longitudinal 30-year research study regarding the impact of Sesame Street on preschool children finds the following conclusion: young children who watch this phenomenal educational TV program thrive more in academic performance and interpersonal skills later at school. The study shows the significant influence of high-quality early education on later personal development.
Early childhood education combines the equally important elements of cognitive and social-emotional development.
According to Jean Piaget, the world-renowned developmental psychologist, children of age 2 to 7 are undergoing the pre-operational stage in which children play with concrete objects, and are pretty good at symbolic play. We usually see children pretend to call someone with a block, or push the block around the floor as a “car”. This type of play is the so-called symbolic play.
Children’s imagination flies through symbolic play. Dr. Harris, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University also remarks that children learn “cause and effect”, practice reasoning skills, and imitate real life situations through symbolic play. Therefore, parents should strongly encourage children to engage in this type of play during free time.
Frank Keil, a psychologist at Yale University, once claimed that children’s vocabulary and the use of sentences burst between age 1 and 6, which indicates a huge capacity for quick language development. Also, research has shown that child-directed speech, a speech style that is clear, slow, and directing towards children, has a positive impact on children’s vocabulary growth. Therefore, as parents, we should seize the opportunity to talk to our children as much as possible.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share cognitive and emotional state of others. It is a critical component indicating an individual’s psychological well-being, as well as the foundation for developing prosocial behaviors such as kindness and generosity. Also, according to Psychologists Maxwell and DesRoches, age four to seven is a critical period for the development of empathy. Therefore, teaching the younger generation empathy will contribute to their psychological well-being and benefit prosocial behavior learning.
Early Childhood Education and Our Work at Woobo
Three Ways Woobo Supports Children’s Development
With the importance of these three complementary skills in mind, we, at Woobo, are working to create content that can support children in their development and also encourage play.
First, through games that invite young children to play and imagine with the things around them, we hope to support symbolic play.
Secondly, we hope to help children as they develop their verbal skills. As Woobo actively engages in conversations with children whenever they are playing together, we strive to expand children’s exposure to child-directed speech and help increase vocabulary.
Finally, we are working hard to ensure that Woobo can encourage children to understand and respect others’ emotions through chatting and storytelling. In addition, Woobo invites children to talk about their own emotions and thoughts through daily conversations. We aim to build a bond between Woobo and children, which would ultimately benefit children’s empathy development.
Our ultimate goal is that Woobo and children play together…and learn from each other at the same time.
Susana Zhang, our Content/Marketing Specialist here at Woobo authored this post. Susana’s background is in psychology, recently earning her Master’s in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology.
Fisch, S. M., Truglio, R. T., & Cole, C. F. (1999). The impact of Sesame Street on preschool children: A review and synthesis of
30 years’ research. Media Psychology, 1(2), 165-190.
Kavanaugh, R.D. & Harris, P.L. (1994). Imagining the outcome of pretend transformations: Assessing the competence of normal and autistic children. Developmental Psychology, 30, 847-854.
Piaget, J. (1964). Part I: Cognitive development in children: Piaget development and learning. Journal of research in science teaching, 2(3), 176-186.
Keil, F. C. (2013). Developmental psychology: The growth of mind and behavior. W W Norton & Company Incorporated.
Maxwell, B., & DesRoches, S. (2010). Empathy and social‐emotional learning: Pitfalls and touchstones for school‐based programs. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2010(129), 33-53.
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