Scientists in fields like psychology, neuroscience, robotics and education are beginning to explore the idea of forming a new discipline that blends all those related bodies of knowledge into a focused study of how children learn.
New research based on that model, that looks at issues like dyslexia, can now predict that babies are prone to the condition and start early interventions that can lessen or prevent it in the majority of kids who would get it.
Central principles that are coming to light in this multidisciplinary approach are that learning is computational, social, and driven by brain circuitry. In regular person language, that means that babies can learn patterns far earlier than originally thought, that they learn far better from people than from technology, and that students who identify with their teachers learn better.
And many of the kind of things that help babies learn – reading to them, teaching them patterns (as simply as singing songs or playing with blocks), etc. are actually fun. I remember asking a woman I know who’s well versed in early learning how I could help my then-newborn baby learn better, and she told e something that’s stuck with me: “Talk, play, sing, every day.”
Sounds natural – and really pretty fun.