Wednesday, February 13, 2008

By simply listening, a mother helps her child learn

This is so obvious (to me) that I'm amazed and pleased that somebody took the time to validate it. I also think that it's the tip of the iceberg (which I'll explain below) And I quote:

“We knew that children learn well with their moms or with a peer, but we did not know if that was because they were getting feedback and help,” Bethany Rittle-Johnson, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, said.

“In this study, we just had the children’s mothers listen, without providing any assistance. We’ve found that by simply listening, a mother helps her child learn.”....

Although the researchers used children and their mothers in the study, they believe the same results will hold true whether the person is the child’s father, grandparent, or other familiar person.

Personally, I believe that anytime somebody revisists some recently-learned materials and tries to express or explain it, they reinforce the learning and broaden their understanding (making new connections) as they strive to articulate it. This is, I believe, the basis behind book reports. If you think about and try to explain what you've read and what it meant, you will build your understanding of it.

The article continues: “The basic idea is that it is really effective to try to get kids to explain things themselves instead of just telling them the answer,” she said. “Explaining their reasoning, to a parent or perhaps to other people they know, will help them understand the problem and apply what they have learned to other situations.”
The research is currently in press at the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
Rittle-Johnson, along with co-authors Megan Saylor, assistant professor of psychology, and recent graduate Kathryn Swygert, set out to determine if 4- and 5-year-olds learn more when they have to explain the solution to a problem to someone else. They were shown a series of plastic bugs, and then had to say which bug should come next in the series based on color and type of bug, a problem that is challenging for 4- and 5-year-olds. The children were told to explain the solution to their moms, to themselves or to simply repeat the answer out loud.

The researchers found that explaining the answer to themselves and to their moms improved the children’s ability to solve similar problems later, and that explaining the answer to their moms helped them solve more difficult problems.

“We saw that this simple act of listening by mom made a difference in the quality of the child’s explanations and how well they could solve more difficult problems later on,” Rittle-Johnson said.

The researchers also found that children experience the benefit of explaining a solution at an earlier age than previously thought.

“This is one of the first studies to examine whether or not explanation is useful in helping children under 8 apply what they’ve learned to a modification of a task,” Rittle-Johnson said. “We found that even 4-year-olds can use explanation to help them learn and to apply what they’ve learned to other tasks.”

I'd like to know more, I think I'll google Rittle-Johnson , Megan Saylor, and Kathryn Swygert. I think this might be one of the keys to why homeschoolers get such a great education. They talk about it.

1 comment:

Odile S said...

This is why I really like the teacher my child had last year, she asks the children to explain what they build, why and how. They then make a drawing of what they have built.