In the entire lifespan of an individual, the early childhood period, which is 0 to 6 years, is the most crucial period for learning and development. Children learn a list of learning dispositions in early childhood education. They learn with their senses and the environment they are in, using relationship and communication during play and exploration.
It is important to understand that learning and development during the early childhood years is not just about academics, namely reading writing or arithmetic. Rather, it is a period meant for preparing them for academic learning.
The primary goal of early childhood care and education (ECCE) therefore, should only be to make the child ready to learn by enhancing their willingness and ability to engage in learning.
To achieve this goal of ECCE curriculum, the early childhood educator, which informally includes parents too, should focus on the child acquiring a list of learning dispositions in early childhood education, the positive learning dispositions in particular; and sustain the acquired dispositions of learning.
Note: A child’s first teachers are parents. From that perspective, the mention of the word ‘educator’ across this article also and equally refers to parents.
In this article:
This module on recognizing dispositions skills and attitudes, and knowledge and understanding of children comes to you in the form of two articles.
- Outline the four interrelated aspects of learning and recognize its interrelatedness
- Comprehend the term ‘Dispositions’ and Differentiate between Positive and Negative Dispositions
- Sketch the Process of Encouraging Dispositions among children during their Early Years
- Ascertain the Significance of Encouraging Positive Disposition among children
The Four Interrelated Aspects of Learning
The learning potential of young children can be outlined into four interrelated aspects, viz.
- Attitudes & Values
- Knowledge and Understanding
Skills that a child in the early childhood stage can practice are many. Some of the crucial skills to be focused by the early childhood educator are:
- Problem Solving
- Manipulating Objects and Tools
Attitudes and Values
For a child to demonstrate positive attitude towards learning and values for life, the early childhood educator should provide opportunities for them to:
- Respect themselves and others
- Care for the natural environment
- Take up responsibility
- Try new things
- Take risks
Knowledge and Understanding
The early childhood educator should realize that young children try to demonstrate the acqiured knowledge and understanding when provided opportunities to:
- Count, classify and order
- Ask questions
- Express oneself creatively
- Show and talk about feelings
- Share information with others
- Understand pictures and symbols that has got meaning
- Respond to music stories and drama
The child’s learning is greatly influenced by the attitude or the disposition that the child has acquired or learned.
Though some of the dispositions are present since birth, its intensity varies depending on the environmental interactions that the child experiences in his early years.
Some of the dispositions that may be present in a child since birth are:
Moreover, certain dispositions are also acquired purely through interactions, relationships and the experiences the child is enmeshed into.
Altogether the positive disposition towards learning include:
- Imagination or creativity
- Perseverance, and
Definition of Disposition
Disposition is defined as the enduring habits of mind and action. It is a tendency to respond to a situation in a particular way.
Dispositions are basically the common intentional habits of thinking and doing. They are the mindful habits, otherwise called as voluntary habits, and not strictly about the mindless habits or involuntary habits.
Lilian G Katz has researched the role of disposition in the children’s education for over 30 years.
She has stated that a child’s disposition is environmentally sensitive. In other words, the dispositions can be acquired and supported by employing meaningful interactions and experiences over the environment.
At the same time, it can also be weakened. Moreover when these meaningful interactions and experiences with the environment, when facilitated by the early classroom education, the outcomes are found to be more productive.
The 2 Categories of Dispositions
Dispositions are categorized differently by different educators. However, here we will be looking into two different categorizations:
- Positive and Negative Dispositions
- Inborn, Social and Intellectual dispositions
Dispositions can be both positive and negative, and are learnt through interactions and experiences. It can have long term effects on life-long learning.
Some dispositions are positive and some are negative. At the same time some are less helpful than others for a child’s learning and development. In other words, dispositions are not fixed.
Positive dispositions are needed for their development of learning potential, and is also called as desirable dispositions.
Examples of positive dispositions are:
- Problem solving
Are dispositions that has to be weakened to enhance the learning and development potential of the child. It is also called as undesirable disposition
Examples of negative dispositions are:
As already discussed, dispositions can be strengthened or weakened to through practice. Hence the educator’s role is to reinforce positive dispositions and undermining the negative dispositions.
For example, a child when encouraged to be responsible to keep his place keen and tidy, he usually picks up the waste and puts in the dustbin whereby positive disposition of independence develops.
Simultaneously, when the same child is not allowed to clean his place when needed, the child develops dependency on the adults and thereby the unfavourable disposition of learned helplessness sets in.
Inborn, Social and Intellectual Dispositions
Inborn dispositions are of innate and readily observed character.
Examples of inborn dispositions are:
- The ability to bond, and
- Innate curiosity
Dispositions that have a positive value is called social dispositions.
Examples of social dispositions are:
What is Intellectual Disposition?
Intellectual dispositions are related to the cognitive capacity of the child.
Examples of intellectual dispositions are:
- Problem solving
The Process of Enhancing Dispositions
The dispositions of learning, as already mentioned, do have an impact on the overall ability of the child to learn and progress.
Dispositions develop along with the other 3 facets of learning, namely:
- Attitudes and values
- Knowledge and understanding
Let us understand the process with an example.
Example for the Process of Enhancing Dispositions
In a situation herein a group of children are made to play with wooden blocks and asked to build it tall, the children in action would learn to grasp, place and stack the blocks. The grasping, placing and stacking comes under Physical Skills.
To respect to each other and listen to other’s ideas and try new things in a group comes under Attitudes and Values.
Understanding the concept of shape and size of the wooden block comes under Knowledge and Understanding.
At the same time, when all of these phases of learning occurs, concentration and collaboration develops, which comes under Positive Dispositions.
How to Enhance Dispositions?
While trying to build the tower of wooden blocks tall, the children face the problem of the blocks tumbling down.
In the process of trying to solve the problem as a group, they develop certain other positive dispositions, namely:
The Significance and Implications of Developing Positive Dispositions
The implications of developing positive dispositions among children at the early years are stressed upon the following four dispositions:
- Taking responsibility
It also states its interrelationship with other interconnected aspects of learning namely Skills, Attitudes and values, and Knowledge and understanding.
What Happens When The Child Lacks …
Confidence: If the positive disposition of confidence lacks in a child, their ability to try something new, to take risks or explore, all get hindered; thereby resulting in all other interrelated aspects of learning to suffer.
Collaboration: If the positive disposition of collaboration or cooperation is not fostered in a child, the child becomes socially inactive, isolated and unaccepted; thereby their social learning in all of the other facets get inhibited.
Taking Responsibilities: If a child’s disposition of taking responsibilities of their own action is not motivated, the child becomes more dependent on others. This dependency will in turn affect the other facets of learning.
Creativity: If a child’s disposition of creativity is not fostered, the capacity to use arts and crafts and the ability to innovate get hampered. Hence the usage of other facets of learning also suffer.
In short, every disposition has got a value to child’s lifelong learning and its associated successes.
Having seen the list of dispositions in early childhood education, the question that follows is: How to enhance the dispositions in the child? We will look into it in detail in another article.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.