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Eight Fascinating Early Years Discoveries in 2020

2020 has been a significant year for many, many reasons, but it was also the year of some fascinating child development studies...

1. Preschool children can't see the mountains for the cat

New studies suggest that young children have a bias toward paying attention to objects rather than scenes. When shown an image of a cat in front of a mountain and told to remember the mountain, the children often were not able to do so. The findings ‘suggest that children failed to filter irrelevant objects, rather than failed to focus on relevant scenes’. Read more...

2. Certain types of vocal interactions between adults and infants are associated with a larger infant vocabulary

Infants tended to have a larger vocabulary if they produced a greater number of speech-like babbling sounds and, in return, received a greater amount of adult responses that incorporated sounds similar to their babbling. The authors speculate this may be because adults find it easier to respond meaningfully to babbling that sounds closer to real words. Read more...

Dictionary: Technology
Photographer: Joshua Hoehne | Source: Unsplash

3. Children from migrant backgrounds are often misdiagnosed as having an 'impairment of language acquisition'

Around 45% of children in Austrian day nurseries have a first language other than German. Those who our experiencing difficulty in learning the second language are often diagnosed as having a suspected "impairment of language acquisition." In fact, this often merely reflects the fact that they have not yet fully acquired the second language. Read more...

4. Humans are born with brains 'prewired' to see words

Analysing brain scans of newborns, researchers found that this part of the brain - called the "visual word form area" (VWFA) - is connected to the language network of the brain. "That makes it fertile ground to develop a sensitivity to visual words, even before any exposure to language”. Read more...

5. Children use make-believe aggression and violence to manage bad-tempered peers

Academics from the University of Cambridge believe that the tendency for children to introduce aggressive themes in these situations - which seems to happen whether or not they are personally easy to anger - may be because they are 'rehearsing' strategies to cope with hot-headed friends. Read more...

6. Babies' random choices become their preferences

When a baby reaches for one stuffed animal in a room filled with others just like it, that seemingly random choice is very bad news for those unpicked toys: the baby has likely just decided she doesn't like what she didn't choose. Read more...

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

7. Busy pictures hinder reading ability in children

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are exploring how the design of reading materials affects literacy development. They find that an overly busy page with extraneous images can draw the reader's attention away from the text, resulting in lower understanding of content. Read more...

8. Children will wait to impress others

A new study published in the journal Psychological Science expands on earlier research and shows that young children will wait nearly twice as long for a reward if they are told their teacher will find out how long they wait. Read more...