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Research on Home Education from Early Childhood to Fourth Grade of Elementary School (Longitudinal Study) 3

Research on Home Education from Early Childhood to Fourth Grade of Elementary School (Longitudinal Study)
Results of the fifth round of a multi-round survey capturing changes of the same children over the course of seven years (from age three to fourth grade of elementary school)
Comments from Professors who Supervised the Survey: Findings from Round Seven of the Longitudinal Survey
data_ec_2019_01_12.jpgTakashi Muto (Research Professor, Shiraume Gakuen University Graduate School)

When considering academic abilities in elementary school in the broad sense, key elements most likely include numeracy skills, letter/language skills, vocabulary, logical thinking skills (logicalness), and learning attitudes. This survey draws from results of a longitudinal survey targeting the same children from age three to fourth grade. While there are limitations to the survey considering that the children's growth is assessed by their parents, such research tracking the same children from early childhood is valuable in Japan. Firstly, it goes without saying that respective skills and abilities develop from corresponding skills and abilities acquired during early childhood. Hence, numeracy, letters/language and other skills are extensions of corresponding skills developed during early childhood. Meanwhile, another noteworthy point is that academic abilities in the broad sense seem to be associated not only with such intellectual aspects, but also "non-cognitive abilities" (i.e., attitudes for learning to learn, or perseverance) and parental involvement centered on encouraging children to think. The survey revealed that parent's respect for their children's opinion and encouragement of thinking in early childhood leads to higher perseverance in K3, which in turn leads to proactive learning attitudes as well as language and logical thinking skills after entering elementary school. This implies that both intellectual aspects and other involvements during early childhood are important.

data_ec_2019_01_13.jpgKiyomi Akita (Professor, Graduate School of The University of Tokyo)

Children's Proactiveness and Logical Thinking Skills Fostered Through Continuous Development

The results of the seven-year longitudinal survey revealed that development from early childhood to the elementary school period is accumulated in succession, leading to language and logical thinking skills which enable writing logically at age ten, around which time children are able to think abstractly. The important point is to consider the specific situation and context in which the words that appear in the survey results such as "perseverance" or "attitudes of respecting the child's motivation and encouraging thinking" were generated.

Perseverance in early childhood is not something that can be acquired through adults forcing it on their children, nor does it mean that adults should let children do whatever they like. Rather, perseverance arises from environments and activities of playing or learning in which children can absorb themselves and try different approaches when things don't turn out as anticipated. Likewise, encouraging children to think at home is not about literally and repeatedly saying "Try hard! Think for yourself." It is about providing appropriate tips or clues, and showing perspectives for thinking or demonstrating learning methods on how to understand something. Also, while development is a continuous process, it is true that some children may be late bloomers while others may be early bloomers and not develop much thereafter. Basic skills including reading/writing and daily habits are also important in bolstering such development. Perseverance develops through discovering something they want to try out and taking on that challenge, and through confidence of possessing the reading/writing skills or useful knowledge/skills for living that are necessary at that point and of being acknowledged by those around them. It is never too late or too early. At home, I encourage parents to seize moments when their children are trying hard and to applaud them saying "good job!" rather than attempting to force perseverance on them.

data_ec_2019_01_14.jpgMisako Aramaki (Associate Professor, Mejiro University)

The longitudinal survey which started when the subject children were K1 has reached its seventh round, enabling us to examine effects up to fourth grade. One thing to note is that especially with regards to cognitive skills (i.e., language and logical thinking skills), the survey items have been altered slightly according to the children's development, making simple comparison by age difficult. However, an overview of the accumulated longitudinal data shows that the development of skills during the elementary school period is an extension of the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills during early childhood. Also, in this round of analysis, we focused on the flow in which parent's encouragement of thinking and respect for motivation during early childhood bolsters perseverance and cognitive skills during the transition period to elementary school, which in turn influence children's development in the upper grades of elementary school. The survey revealed that children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and the vector of impact that parental involvement has on such skills is somewhat complex and intertwined, and that while non-cognitive skills do not just affect cognitive skills in a unilateral manner, accumulated development since early childhood is important.

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