Young children are like sponges; they absorb everything going on about them. Since they are young, the world is new and fresh. Children do not discriminate between what is prepared and structured for them to learn and whatever else happens to them at school. It is all learning.

Gordon & Brown

Gordon & Brown has emphasized a crucial point in that statement “it is all learning”. Which means, anything derives to the children development can be considered as a process of learning. Thus, many early childhood educators have come with an ideal learning approach that is significant for young children development, with the intention of how they could support the young children to reach their full potential through learning process. Because, not developing to children full potential might hurts both, them and the society. The question is, what kind of development that would help young children to learn and reach their full potential?

These two aspects of children’s development are always in debate, especially among school’s stakeholders; emotional and cognitive development. Cognitive development and emotional development are often viewed as separate components in the development of children. As result, some preschools prefer to prepare the curriculum that address socio-emotional development of children more than cognitive development. As they believe, the child who is emotionally stable will able to grasp anything easier and smoother. Meanwhile, some preschools really concern on how well cognitive development is taking place in children in order for them to be able to “pass” the next level. Somehow, it seems to be more “forcing” to learn than developing children full potential. Anyhow, both are having its own significant in pre-schooler life. In reality, the two are intricately related to each other. In fact, a number of recent studies claim that cognitive and emotional processes are linked in reciprocal ways in the brain. Neuroscience research has shown several of important connections between brain activity, top- and bottom-down processing and emotional development in children (e.g., Bell, Greene, & Wolfe, 2010). 

As children move from infancy into childhood, they begin to show considerable mastery of emotions. The emotions become more elaborated cognitively. For example, children begin to be aware of which emotions are socially acceptable , good or bad, and understand in which situations emotions are appropriate to express oneself or to be avoided. This expansion of emotional sophistication goes along with cognitive growth that permits children to not only enact emotions, but to reflect about them and represent them. Eventually, cognitive plays the role in helping the children understand their emotion better. A study done by Morra, Parrella, and Camba in 2011, which assessed 5- to 11-year-old children, found out that cognitive capacity was a significant contributor to children’s emotion comprehension. However, these capacities to think about self and one’s emotions are aided by the acquisition of language. Therefore, it could be saying that language development is most vital to enhance other development including emotional and cognitive in early childhood. Language acquisition will help children to understand any information that they absorb as well as able to express their emotion and feeling in better way. 

In a nutshell, integrating all aspects of development is much better that focus on one and neglecting the others. Put the weight on same measure is better than more or less as because, young children are just like a white sponge, they could absorb everything as it is all learning for them. An ideal learning centre, therefore, needs to address any kind of development accordingly and respectfully as so their students would be able to achieve their full potential. 

Adzimah Subirin

Education Consultant at ALFA and Friends

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