Foreword by: Sharon Ritchie
Publication Date: April 20, 2018
A growing body of research indicates that three foundational cognitive skills—executive function, motor skills, and spatial skills—form the basis for children to make a strong academic, behavioral, and social transition to formal school. Given inequitable early learning environments or “opportunity gaps” in the United States, these skills are also a source of substantial achievement and behavioral gaps.
Hands On, Minds On describes the importance of children’s foundational cognitive skills for academic achievement in literacy and mathematics, as well as their connections with other areas of school readiness, including physical health, social and emotional development, and approaches to learning. The author emphasizes how social relationships and interactions, both in and outside the classroom, encourage or constrain young children’s development in these skills. The book concludes with a summary of the growing evidence in favor of guided object play, which teachers can introduce to children to exercise and strengthen foundational cognitive skills.
Claire E. Cameron is associate professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo. She directs the Early Childhood and Childhood programs for teachers seeking certification to teach in New York State, and for researchers seeking a doctorate with a preschool or elementary focus. She is an expert in the development and assessment of foundational cognitive skills in early childhood and author of the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) behavioral assessment and the Motor Skills Rating Scale (MSRS) teacher-report questionnaire. Cameron earned her PhD in 2007 from the University of Michigan’s Combined Program in Education and Psychology in Ann Arbor. She was an Institute for Education Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow from 2007 to 2009 at the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning (CASTL), where she stayed on as research scientist until moving to Buffalo in 2015. She is a passionate proponent of translating research for public audiences and serves on the advisory board for the University of Connecticut’s PK–3 Leadership Program. Learn more about Cameron’s work at claireelizabethcameron.com.
"...by presenting the most up-to-date research, well-designed vignettes, and exercises throughout Hands On, Minds On, Cameron provides an excellent starting point for teachers and teacher educators who are eager to learn more about supporting EF development in children through hands-on activities."
— Teachers College Record
"Researchers from Froebel to Montessori to Piaget have emphasized the connection between mind and movement, yet hard evidence explicating this connection has been lacking. Research has accelerated in the last decade, and Hands On, Minds On deftly summarizes and integrates these exciting advances. This is a must-read for educators and policymakers."
—Daniel T. Willingham, professor of psychology, University of Virginia
"Hands On, Minds On offers educators and parents an entry point into what developmental research is telling us about early childhood and how best to support our youngest learners. The book draws attention to spatial skills, executive function, and fine motor skills, thus going beyond the usual focus on words and numbers."
—Nora S. Newcombe, Temple University
Tentative Table of Contents
Foreword by Sharon Ritchie
PART I: THINKING ABOUT SCHOOL READINESS
Chapter 1. Foundational Cognitive Skills and School Readiness
Three Views on School Readiness
Three Foundational Cognitive Skills and School Readiness
Chapter 2. The Importance of Context in Explaining Young Children's Behavior
How Poverty and Stress in the Environment Affect Children's Development
Bias in Teacher-Children Relationships
Learning to See How Classroom Contexts Affect Young Children
Are There Unspoken Expectations in Your Classroom?
PART II: UNDERSTANDING FOUNDATIONAL COGNITIVE SKILLS
Chapter 3. How Executive Function Helps Children Learn
Three Components of Executive Function
Temperament, Effortful Control, and Executive Attention
The Same or Different? Executive Function and Self-Regulation
Assessing Executive Function in Early Childhood
Review of Research to Improve Executive Function
Chapter 4. Motor Skills in Early Childhood
Definition of Motor Skills
Gross Motor Skills
Fine Motor Skills
Development of Motor Skills in Infancy and Childhood
Common Assessments of Motor Skills
Review of Research to Improve Motor Skills
Chapter 5. Spatial Skills: Important But Off the Radar
Spatial Skills: Thinking About Objects
Cognitive Processes Involved in Spatial Skills
Development of Spatial Skills in Infancy and Childhood
Assessing Spatial Skills in Early Childhood
Review of Research to Improve Spatial Skills
PART III: LINKING THE LEARNING DOMAINS AND THE FOUNDATIONAL COGNITIVE SKILLS
Chapter 6. How Physical Development, Social-Emotional Development, and Approaches to Learning Connect with Foundational Cognitive Skills
How Fitness and Nutrition Matter for EF
Social-Emotional Development: The Role of Motor Skills in Children’s Self-Confidence
Approaches to Learning: Connections to EF and Spatial Skills
Summary: What About Alicia?
Chapter 7. Literacy and the Theory of Automaticity
How Executive Function Supports Literacy Acquisition
Motor and Spatial Skills Used in Literacy
How the Theory of Automaticity Connects Foundational Cognitive Skills with Reading and Writing
Chapter 8. Mathematics Skills Develop Together with Foundational Cognitive Skills
Executive Function and Mathematics
Motor Coordination and Mathematics
Spatial Skills and Different Mathematics Skills
Interventions that Showcase the Connection Between Spatial and Mathematics Skills
Aligning Activities with Learning Goals
PART IV: GETTING THE MOST OUT OF PLAY
Chapter 9. Taking a Closer Look at Play
Understanding Play Results from a Study in 701 Preschool Classrooms
Finding a Middle Ground in Guided Object Play
Minds in Motion: A Guided Object Play Curriculum That Improves Low-Income Children's EF and Spatial Skills
Chapter 10. Using Guided Object Play to Explicitly Teach the Foundational Cognitive Skills
Guided Object Play Can Address Learning Opportunity Gaps
Teachers Enact the Curriculum Through Their Interactions with Children
Making Time for Guided Object Play
Successful Curricula Explicitly Teach Foundational Cognitive Skills Through Guided Object Play
Summary and Overall Conclusion
Professors: Request an Exam Copy
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