A new research project has been launched to find out how babies and toddlers learn on their own, from birth to 47 months.
Dr Elena Hoicka at the University of Sheffield is seeking to discover how children explore the world around them, and whether different children explore in different ways.
Parents across the world are invited to participate in a study by completing the Early Learning Styles Survey online at www.babylovesscience.com during the month of September.
The survey asks questions about how children learn about the world, e.g., whether they like to play with only one or two toys at a time, or whether they get out all their toys at once.It only takes around 15 minutes to register and complete the survey.
The study is inclusive, so Dr Hoicka wants to hear from parents of all types of children, including children with typical development, as well as children with any other pattern of development, such as Down’s syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Even parents of children with low activities levels, such as newborns, are invited to participate, as we are interested in how children learn about the world right from the beginning.
At the end of the survey parents will receive a summary of their child’s learning styles.
This is the first survey to examine how independent learning develops in young children, and will shed light on a significant aspect of development.
Dr Hoicka said, “There has been a great deal of research on young children’s social learning, that is, learning from others.
“While social learning is very important, we often overlook the strategies children might take to learn on their own.
“Parents and others aren’t always there to show kids what to do, and some kids might be fiercely independent even when others are around, so it’s important to find out kids’ own strategies for learning about the world.
“Independent learning may not only be useful for children to learn, but also to come up with creative ideas, to focus or self-direct, and to become exposed to things they might otherwise not encounter.
“Without having a fuller understanding of how independent learning develops, it makes it difficult to know what to expect, and when children may be having difficulties.
“It is really important for parents of children from birth to preschool age to help us answer these critical questions about the early development of independent learning.”