Learning from pictures in infancy

Today I  was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Dr Jeanne Shinskey from Royal Holloway, University of London.

The lecture spoke mainly of Shinskey’s research into object permanence in babies and the symbolic value of pictures and objects. She spoke of how familiarity processing is more common in younger children as their speed of processing is slower than that of older children. Most research focuses on object to real life transfer however, she looked into picture to object transfer. The 7.5 month old babies were shown either a black and white picture or a coloured picture of an object. They were then shown the real life object they had seen in the picture as well as a distractor (another) object. It was noted what object the baby went to grab first. There were two conditions in this experiment. One of which where the objects were shown to the baby and then put in to two clear plastic boxes so that the baby could see both objects and the other where the objects were placed into two boxes where the child could not see the objects. Findings suggested that colour had no impact upon the babies object preference however, changes were noted in the two conditions. In the condition where the baby could see the objects in the clear boxes the babies preferred the novelty object, the object they had not seen a picture of previously. In the hidden box condition however, the babies showed a preference for the object they had seen a picture of. This is perhaps an idea that could be researched in further detail to see why this is the case. Why is it that when the babies can see they objects they prefer novelty, yet when they can’t they prefer familiarity?

Shinskey also spoke about Picture Iconicty. Something I was not familiar of before the lecture. She used the example of childrens books and whether real life pictures or cartoon picture books were more beneficial to young children under the age of 1 in terms of learning. She found that at 15 months real life pictures in child picture books lead to more learning. Furthermore, manipulative features in books actually detract away from learning. She looked at pop up vs non pop up books in particular and found that children learnt more from non pop up books than they did pop up books. Books with flaps are also a challenge and hinder word learning. For babies and young children it is difficult to touch, look AND listen which is why pop up books/flap books are a challenge for young children. A point i had never previously thought about but makes complete sense. However, does the flap effect disappear over time? Young children tend to enjoy reading and re – reading books so as time progresses are they actually learning from picture books as the flaps and pop ups almost become ignored and irrelevant. Perhaps they’re not as bad for the child as previously suggested also, getting children reading, whatever the book may be is never a bad thing!

 

Priceless

Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring a smile to a child’s face. Stop and think before you spend hundreds of pounds on toys your children really don’t need this Christmas/Thanksgiving. Appreciate the small things in life.

 

That’s for girls, that’s for boys

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign is asking the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.

I’d strongly urge you all to have a browse through their website and give them a follow on Twitter for interesting posts and updates: @lettoysbetoys

I have attached below a link to their website as well as a link to an interesting article they have published about children’s views on stereotyped toys.

http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk/thats-for-girls-and-thats-for-boys/

http://lettoysbetoys.org.uk/

DC Super Hero Girls

LEGO_Main-624x454.jpg

Lego have got some bad press in recent times due to the release of their Lego friends range which was very much aimed at girls.Lego had always been viewed as a gender neutral toy but with the introduction to this range it seems as though Lego suffered from a lot of backlash. Although, the bad comments seem to have done something to the Lego head office and they are now releasing a female Lego superhero range, yay!

Above you can see a picture of the new superhero range. It has been said that the DC superhero line will include 11 superhero women. It’s a move in the right direction and encourages children to not conform to gender stereotypes through play. It encourages young girls, in particular, to broaden their horizons and makes them realise that they can be superheroes too. Girls can be cool too.

 

http://www.kveller.com/legos-new-line-of-female-superheroes-is-the-toy-we-deserve/

The pleasure in writing

In this day and age it’s common to see children texting their friends, tweeting their followers on Twitter or spending time writing status update on Facebook. However, have you ever considered how much time the children of the 21st Century spend with a pen in hand actually writing on a piece of paper?

Well, the BBC have produced an article which speaks of this exactly. They have found that a quarter of all pupils write only for school. This is a shocking statistic. It saddens me how such few children write outside of the school setting. Perhaps technology really is taking over. The children of the 21st century seem  happy texting and typing but don’t seem so keep on actual physical writing. The real question is will putting pen to paper ever be something that fades out entirely? Will typing on a keyboard replace hold importance over the pen?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

(I personally feel that writing is something that should be enjoyed in any shape or form, for fun, for pleasure, for school and in the home. Children should be provided with the opportunity to express themselves through their writing and should have access to writing equipment).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37850743

 

Speech and Language

Yesterday I attended a guest lecture regarding speech and language development. The lecture was interesting and informative and provided me with an insight on practitioners views of a speech and language therapist. It was interesting to see how strongly practitioners felt about having speech and language therapists in preschool settings.

The lecture itself focused on the lecturers research project in which a band 5 speech and language therapist was invited to attend weekly workshops with groups of preschool children at 4 preschools in a county in the UK. She discussed the reason behind the research – the reason being that the speech and language skills in school are not quite as good as they were 2 to 3 years ago. The change has been significant and therefore something needs to be done before it is too late. The target was therefore on preschool children that were about to begin school. The idea was that if speech and language skills are improved at a young age then it’ll cost the government less in the future.

The research, like most, wasn’t without its problems. Speech and language therapists are trained in clinical settings on a one on one basis with the child. However, this research required a speech and language therapist to work with a group of preschool children, in 4 different, diverse and challenging preschool settings rather than a nice, quiet, pleasant room. Evidently, the newly qualified speech and language therapist struggled greatly and quit the research project within a month, delaying the speech and language intervention process. There was also poor parental response, commitment and engagement from parents which made the study challenging. However, there a ways this could be improved. Social media is very prominent in today’s society. Although I am still very much on the fence about the idea of children using technology I am all for parents getting involved in the online community. The internet is a great way to share and view ideas and educate yourself. Facebook, in particular, is a very popular site. Why not post videos on a secured, private Facebook page for adults to view whilst their flicking through their timeline in the evening, or private message them, post on their wall reminding them to attend a meeting tomorrow. Alternatively, send them a text. Most adults (and adolescents) are glued to their phones 24/7. Hold meeting straight after schools or school events so that parents are already at school and don’t have the chance to run away. What I am trying to say is that there are ways to overcome parental disengagement.

However, one of the possibilities for the lack of parental support of the speech and language study was due to the stigma surrounding speech and language therapists. Many parents are under the assumption that speech and language therapists are only for children who have definite problems. However, in the case of this study the focus was on ALL preschool children. Not just those with problems. There are a lack of speech and language therapists in the UK which leads to them being in high demand, but, the results of this study show the importance of having speech and language therapists for ALL children. The results were incredibly positive. All the children in all the 4 preschools showed improved language ability by the end of the study after having weekly sessions in a group environment with the therapist. If we are serious about targeting speech and language problems from a young age then group speech and language sessions within preschool settings seems to be the way forward. Perhaps a consideration of how speech and language therapists are trained also needs to be taken into account. For example, they should be trained in dealing with children in groups situations as well as in different environments such as churches where the acoustics are different to everyday life, or outside or simply within a classroom setting.

It is evident that something needs to be done sooner rather than later in order to prevent more speech and language problems in the future. The question is however when will these changes take place and when will the Government listen to expert research that shows something extraordinary.