New Study Suggests Preschoolers Learning More Than We Realize - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

New Study Suggests Preschoolers Learning More Than We Realize

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MIDDLETOWN TWP., Pa. -

Are you a "helicopter" parent? Do you hover over your pre-schooler with flash cards, hoping to make him or her smarter? A new study shows you may not have to-- little Johnny and Janey are soaking up a whole lot more than we realize.

Ariana is about to turn three, old enough to know what a chair is. But any adult will tell you that at her young age, there's still plenty of words she doesn't know. So when Dr. Jennifer Zosh showed her two images side by side, how did Ariana know to pick out a thing called a "pizer?" "Kids are amazing at learning," Dr. Zosh explained. "And I think sometimes we don't give them enough credit. Sometimes we think we need to tell kids everything."

Dr. Zosh is a developmental psychologist at Penn State Brandywine, who is studying how kids learn. In one experiment, she showed young kids two objects, one they'd recognize, and one they'd never heard of. She makes up names for those objects, to ensure it's a new word they won't recognize. Three-year-old Madeline picked out something Dr. Zosh called a "tanzer." But how'd she do it? "Kids, especially when they hit about three years old or so, they now have enough knowledge about the world to be able to use that to figure things out for themselves," Dr. Zosh told Fox 29.

When we watched Madeline pick out the tanzer, her finger hovered over the object she recognized. But because she never heard the word "tanzer" before, she figured out it must be the other object. "I'm amazed actually at some of the things I guess I didn't realize that she knew... or the kind of process of elimination," Madeline's mom Anamarie Jones-Blisard said.

What's more, Dr. Zosh's research shows that when kids do figure it out for themselves, they're more likely to remember the word. "It's better for them to use this process than if I were to just show them this and say, this is a glark," Dr. Zosh said. "See, this is a glark. If they are asked to figure it out for themselves, they show better memory."

So want do we parents need to learn? "Kind of realize that there is a lot that they can do at such a young age, that maybe we weren't aware of," Jones-Blisard advised.

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