Having two nieces and a nephew under the age of 5, it amazes me how much information they soak up. Even though my nephew has enough toys to fill a bedroom, he always thanks me for the specific toys I have gifted him through the years. Every time I visit my nieces, they beg me to make them my famous crepes right when I come through the door. They remember all the ingredients that are necessary and slowly drag the chairs to the kitchen counter to help me make them. How do they retain this information at such a young age?
The information learning process has been examined in children to understand how they develop cognitively since the early 60’s. Children go through a mental process of understanding, encoding, storing and translating the new information they have learned (Oswalt, n.d.). Long term memory in children does not start to develop until about the age of 2, which is the reason why most people do not recall memories prior to then. Between the ages of 2-5, children store information from their daily routine activities, in which they start to interpret and predict what the future brings ahead. During this age children develop the cognitive skill of metacognition. They start to comprehend that they use their brain to think on a basic level (Oswalt, n.d.). Whenever I answer my nephew’s questions, it is continuously followed with a “why”.
As children get older, the capacity of learning new information expands and therefore allows the brain to create connections from the old information to new information. For example, young children use their fingers when they start to learn how to count. Once they reach elementary school, they use their hands to do addition and subtraction problems (Oswalt, n.d.).
For more complex problems, children can develop their problem solving skills by:
- Identifying the problem
- Formulating different solutions
- Choosing the solution that may work best
- Implementing the solution chosen
- Evaluating the approach
- Reutilizing the solution
- Improving the solution
(Muralikrishnan & Sanjayan, 2009)
Developing problem solving tactics provides “opportunities to think rationally, understand intellectual processes and practice intellectual skills” (Muralikrishnan & Sanjayan, 2009, p. 81). They begin to use their knowledge from their long-term memory of what they learned in the past and apply them to problem solving strategies.
I look forward to watching my nieces and nephew grow up and learn new processes. Being an aunt is the best feeling and each time I hang out with them, they surprise me with how much they know. I will never say no to them about making my famous crepes, but I hope one day they will learn to measure, mix and cook on their own to make them for me and my future kids.
Muralikrishnan, T. R., & Sanjayan, T. S. (2009). Is There a Teacher in This Class? Information Processing, Multimedia and Education. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 2(2), 79–84.
Oswalt, A. (n.d.). Early Childhood Cognitive Development: Information Processing A. Early Childhood Cognitive Development: Information Processing – Child Development & Parenting: Early (37). https://www.gracepointwellness.org/462-child-development-parenting-early-3-7/article/12760-early-childhood-cognitive-development-information-processing.