It becomes even more apparent now that the early childhood milestones are important ones, and are associated with how the child will approach problems and resolve them going forward from a very early point in life, and that the parents' role in that process is important, and large. Kathleen a. Roskos and James F. Christie (2000) say that a child's cognitive ability lends itself to a perspective on play, on those elements of play involving how they approach it, solve the challenges that are presented to them in play, and processing information leads to mental processes that build literacy, and actually build the skills that child will rely upon in reading and writing (Roskos and Christie, 1).
This is the type of behaviors that Messer and Blank observed and remarked upon in their research. It is what Messer understood to be predictable outcomes when children are motivated by through their relationships with their caregivers to feel secure, which alleviates fear and allows the child to explore his or her curiosity.
The observations of researchers have led to the identification of certain childhood milestones, and the ages by which they can achieve those milestones. The milestones serve as informational markers for the parents. Many of the programs available to parents today in terms of daycare and preschool are designed to motivate, and to promote the child's developmental abilities. These programs work the child's cognitive abilities and skills in ways that help them to meet play challenges, to overcome them, and to learn the art of mastering their skills. Angela Anning and Anne Edwards (1999) say that these programs are responsive to the needs of parents whose own ability to motivate their children through the learning processes, and reflect, too, modern understanding of children and their abilities to learn (Anning and Edwards, 17).
As we look around, we see that young children are part of a world and learning environment much more sophisticated than it was fifty years ago. Children begin learning about computers and using computers by the time they are in kindergarten and first grade. They see their parents and siblings using modern technology at home and often by the time a child is in kindergarten, many children already have some of the skills and knowledge necessary to help them use technology like computers. Most kindergartners today recognize basic vocabulary building blocks, know their numbers, and have some level of reading ability. This is more than a change in the system; it is a reflection of the understanding that has been gained in childhood development, and understanding what children are capable of doing when the motivation to process information exists for them.
Anning and Edwards cite Scheinhart and Weikart (1993), saying:
The essential process connecting early childhood experience to patterns of improved success in school and community seemed to be the development of habits, traits, and dispositions that allowed the child to interact positively with other people and with tasks. This process was based neither on permanently improved intellectual performance or academic knowledge (Anning and Edwards, 54)."
This is in agreement with and in support of what Blank and Messer say too. It takes us back to the point where the role of the parent is an important one, if not as the teacher, as the child's adult motivator for securing the child emotionally and physically so that his or her attitude is one that is healthy and prepared for learning by educators. Preparing the child's disposition for learning, means keeping the child emotionally healthy, challenged with play, and providing a lot of adult/parent interaction with the child. Reading to a child as early as possible orients the child to the pleasure of story telling and creative thinking. Children whose parents begin reading to them at early ages are better able to process information and begin reading and writing at earlier ages than those children whose parents do not read to them. For those parents who are not comfortable with reading to their children, there are library programs and daycare opportunities where the children can benefit from those reading programs.
The research cited here has shown that early childhood milestones as most people understood from birth to a year old actually continue building upon those basic mile stones well beyond that point, into the toddler and young child years. Cognitive ability is measured from birth, and we find that those abilities continue to increase with our understanding of our children and challenging them in a way that helps them to be motivated toward problem solving and goal oriented behaviors in development.
Children benefit from interactions with others, siblings and parents, and they are avid thinkers, observers, and emulate the behavior of those people who move about them in their environment. We know that children's environments impact them from the womb, into life, and as they move through life. Parents have a responsibility to their child to ensure they have environments that are safe, secure, and promote a child's healthy awareness of the world and environment, and encourage learning.
Anning, Angela, and Anne Edwards, eds. Promoting Children's Learning from Birth to Five: Developing the New Early Years Professional. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1999. Questia. 23 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=113677803.
Blank, Robert H. Mother and Fetus: Changing Notions of Maternal Responsibility. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. Questia. 23 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=14348809.
Messer, David, ed. Mastery Motivation in Early Childhood: Development, Measurement, and Social Processes. New York: Routledge, 1993. Questia. 23 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=103404474.
Roskos, Kathleen a., and James F. Christie, eds. Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. Questia. 23 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=27734886.
When we think of in terms of parents who have raised children, it is easy to recognize what Messer is talking about, and perhaps thinking, yes, so when did this become rocket science? The answer is that child rearing does not come as easy to some as it does to others.