The theoretical perspective that we have outlined above has important implications for the use of concrete objects in early childhood education. We have presented a theoretical perspective on the relation between concreteness and symbolic development that differs substantially from the traditional view. The ideas that we have developed in this chapter may prove useful in developing instructional strategies that maximize the effectiveness of manipulatives and other concrete objects.

Perhaps most importantly, our work reveals that concreteness alone does not convey an inherent advantage. Certainly there are circumstances in which working with concrete objects can in fact help children to acquire new knowledge or skills. However, this does not happen spontaneously simply because children work with a manipulative. For children to learn about symbolic relations from the use of concrete objects, the two forms of representation must be explicitly linked.

Importantly, our review also suggests that there are situations in which the use of concrete objects may not be helpful and could even be harmful. Like any learning technique or technology, concrete objects have both strengths and weaknesses. Highly attractive concrete objects may make it difficult for the child to think about using the concrete objects as representations of something else. Teachers and parents may want to reconsider the practice of providing children with highly attractive concrete symbols (e.g., letter magnets) and the expectation that this alone will facilitate symbolic development.

Finally, our review reveals that teachers must play a crucially important role in children's learning of symbolic relations. Whether a child draws a connection between a concrete object and a written representation depends critically on whether this relation is pointed out and reinforced by a teacher. Indeed, our review highlights specifically how teachers can integrate the use of concrete objects into instruction. Teachers can guide children's attention to the relation between manipulatives-based solutions and written representations of similar problems. The challenge for the teacher will be to decide specifically how and when such linkages should be made, but doing so should be an explicit goal of instruction.

The Polarity Path

The Polarity Path

The Effects Polarity Has on Career and Health. Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Understanding Polarity. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To The Effects Polarity Has on Career and Health.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment