Aurora Early Education aims to provide a holistic environment for our children that is constantly evolving to suit their learning and behavioural changes as they develop. We stay updated with new information and research as much as possible and apply findings to our regular practices. Doing so helps us enhance our approaches towards our children and give them the best treatment they need to successfully develop.
Each month, we explore studies that have been published over the past month that reveal significant findings that could help parents and the early education community. In June 2021, these studies explore the benefits of child peer influence, being bilingual, trusting gut instincts when scared, and children solving their own problems.
Children conforming to norms than their own preferences
The first study in this month’s research round-up investigates how three-year-old children following a group consensus can be a significant element of their maturing behaviour. Duke University researchers have recognised that it is natural for children to act based on the influence or observation of their fellow peers and the adults present in their daily atmosphere.
Researchers found that 23% of the time, children changed their minds to match the choices of other children. The findings showed that fitting into groups resulted in a number of children further developing their moral reasoning capacity and a somewhat unconscious understanding of social rules.
At Aurora, we motivate our children to think for themselves, however, learning or making choices based on those of others around them is not always a bad thing. We see this as a part of their development both socially and intellectually as they can then make choices later on having tried something out of their initial preference. Additionally, in our learning-through-play approach, our children share enjoyable experiences with their peers as they collectively work together and make choices. Moreover, this helps them work better with people as they grow and potentially make decisions that will suit a whole group rather than just themselves.
Bilingualism furthering intellectual functioning in autistic children
According to a journal in Autism Research, being bilingual could be a natural form of therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was found that bilingualism can compensate for different functional deficits in the theory of mind, executive functions, and attentional abilities. In addition to that, the researchers from the Universities of Geneva, Thessaly, and Cambridge found that being bilingual also helps children understand other individuals’ behaviours by putting themselves in their shoes.
Aurora’s entire community has cultures and traditions from many parts of the world which makes bilingualism rather usual and very welcome in our environment. We see that learning a different language benefits all children in various ways especially with the functioning of their minds. Therefore, our children, who all have different needs and requirements, can feel inspired to pick up a new language with the diverse environment we provide.
Frequently playing outdoors in shorter timeframes boost child development
A study by a PhD candidate in Health Promotion from Western University found that when children are outdoors in their early childcare, they partake in more energetic play almost ten times more than they would indoors. After observing children in their normally scheduled outdoor play, they found that children were more participating in higher-intensity physical activity in the initial ten minutes of playing, which notably dropped lower during the rest of the session. They then tested children in early learning centres with doubled sessions of outdoor play but significantly shortened in time.
The results found that restructuring play times outside to shorter and frequent sessions will help maximise the children’s physical activity and reduce their time spent sitting. In addition to that, higher-intensity physical activity aids the cognitive development along with bone and skeletal health of young children. The research also found that shorter yet frequent outdoor play helped the children sleep better and enhance their overall motor skills. Furthermore, these play sessions break up screen time and benefit unpredictable weather conditions as educators do not have to work so much around spending large amounts of time in the rain, wind, or hot sun.
Comparably, Aurora maintains indoor outdoor spaces where children can flexibly move through indoor outdoor spaces. This allows them to choose the amount of time they spend outdoors, informed by their own energy and enthusiasm. Our practices and curriculum fit in as much outdoor play as possible so our children reap the numerous health benefits from time spent outside. In particular, our curriculum incorporates learning about nature in multiple ways, for instance through caring for the environment and practising sustainability which requires the children to spend time carrying out environmental activities outdoors. Additionally, we also ensure they participate in plenty of outdoor physical activity with fun exercise classes and games. We find it good to break up their usual playtimes outside and give them more opportunities to channel and express their energy so they can develop physically, intellectually, and emotionally stronger.
Children solving their own problems enhances social skills
The final research for this month’s round-up explores a study where researchers from Hiroshima University suggest that children ought to solve fights or disagreements on their own to be able to stimulate their own interpersonal and social skills. This pedagogical strategy is also called “the mimamoru approach” which translates to watch and protect but principally means “teaching by watching”.
Essentially, this approach emphasises that all adults present in a child’s environment should deliberately let children handle their own disputes, treating it as a learning experience to achieve an understanding of their own emotions and actions. However, adults can of course step in if the situation appears to be getting out of hand.
Similarly, the mimaoru approach aligns with Aurora’s beliefs as we also encourage ownership of solutions and actions. We look at our children as very capable beings who have a say in what is best for them, therefore, as adults, we have to be patient and see how they act on their own to be able to guide them in the right way when they need us to intervene.