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2-051 - Learning Before School

Fri, March 22, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Baltimore, Floor: Level 1, Peale A

Session Type: Paper Symposium

Integrative Statement

At school entry, skill differences among children are staggering, especially those from different socioeconomic backgrounds. These differences can have lifelong consequences for our most at-risk populations, making early interventions – before formal schooling – critical to address opportunity gaps. A better understanding of the kinds of early learning that happen before schools is critical to understand human development, enhance early learning environments, and to close early gaps that may persist throughout a lifetime.

This symposium demonstrates how early learning unfolds across children’s everyday settings (homes, daycares, and preschools). Presentations highlight early language, STEM, and social development in both typical and atypical populations by capitalizing on both conventional and new technologies (educational games, books, voice recording and location tracking). Talk 1 shows that at-home play with a 2D screen-based shape-matching game can foster toddlers’ shape bias with real-world objects, leading to accelerated vocabulary growth. Talk 2 shows that preschoolers can build impressive early knowledge of the place-value concept by mapping number words and written numbers through picture-book reading. Talk 3 demonstrates that peers' language input can positively affect preschoolers’ real-time language use and subsequent vocabulary development in both typical and atypical populations.

Taken together, these studies demonstrate that activities and interactions from homes and preschools can support early learning and may create developmental differences before schooling, and suggest concrete ways to enhance early learning environments for all children. The discussant, an expert in learning and education, will synthesize and relate these findings to the broader issue of early intervention, education, and equality.

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