Investment in early childhood is a moral imperative that also saves society from 7 to 14 dollars for every dollar spent (Heckman). This realization along with newfound governmental interest in preschool education quality, the Head Start program has put early childhood on center stage. Research has followed pace and we have been privileged to be a part of that new wave. As a co-investigator on the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development from 1991-2004, our lab at Temple University was part of one of the most expansive studies of early child care and child development in context. This study, enrolling 1364 children across America is considered by many to be a gold standard within psychological research.
Our work in early education produced research on early literacy and early spatial learning and sparked other work in our lab on literacy, mathematics, assessment, and on the kinds of learning that can take place in informal settings like museums (Song et al., 2017; Hassinger-Das et al., 2017). Current research in our laboratory is directly investigating the role of guided or playful learning on child outcomes. Research in these areas demonstrates the exciting interplay between science and practice. For example, one recent paper suggests that play might help us set a mindset (what we call a mis en place) for learning that helps us pay more attention to what we are learning and to stay on task as we are learning (Weisberg et al., 2014).
Our translational work on early education is presented in our book, Becoming Brilliant in the 21st Century: The 6Cs (2016, APA Press), which became a New York Times Bestseller and won the Bronze Medal of the Living Now Book Awards for Parenting. It features the 6Cs (collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence) as a set of skills that will foster global outcomes needed for success in the 21st Century Global world (Golinkoff & Hirsh-Pasek, 2016). First introduced in a Mandate for playful learning in preschool (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009), the 6Cs offer a systematic and evidence-based way of rethinking education for our time. We are asking how research from the science of learning might help us put the education back in “educational” apps (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015). A brief review of Becoming Brilliant appears in an NPR interview, A Plan for Raising Brilliant Kids, According to Science, by Anya Kamenetz.
The 6 C's Go to School
As today’s children and teens enter the 21st-century economy, they will pursue careers that are driven by information-generation and information-sharing. Their professional world will prioritize the critical analysis and synthesis of this information, while simultaneously valuing innovation, curiosity, and creativity. However, for many reasons, the education system in which these children and teens are learning generally remains focused on academic content instruction with limited emphasis on these other critical skills.
In 2016, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University) and Roberta Golinkoff (University of Delaware) published Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. Their book introduced these vital skills for the information age as the“6 C’s”: Collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. It bridged the latest theories from the learning sciences with education for the benefit of parents and educators. Our current study, “The 6 C’s Go to School,” brings these 6 C’s skills into the classroom for the first time through theme-based learning.
Our team at Temple University, the University of California – Irvine, and the University of Delaware is collaborating with teachers and administrators in the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools—a small school district with a high proportion of Latino dual language learners from low-income families in Grand Rapids, Michigan—to implement a new approach focused on the 6 C’s across all K-12 classrooms in the district. While this effort only recently began in October 2018, preliminary results from the K-2 classrooms suggest student growth in the “C’s” of critical thinking, confidence, and creativity. We hope that “The 6 C’s Go to School” project will continue to test student growth across the 6 C’s, showcasing how these 21st century skills can be taught in a real classroom through active collaboration between researchers and educators to better prepare today’s learners for life-long success in the modern world.
A recent article by Bridie Bereza shows the first results of our project “The 6 C’s Go to School”, which incorporates the the 6 C’s principles into the classroom.
In her new book, The Importance of Being Little, Erika Christakis’ “preschool paradox” suggests a misalignment between what we offer young children and what they really need. If children have “limitless capacity to learn in all environments,” she writes, “why should we settle for unimaginative goals … like being able to identify triangles and squares, or recalling the names of colors and seasons?”
Research demonstrates that guided play can help preschool children prepare for reading and math better than free play and direct instruction alone.
Multilingualism is an international fact of life which is increasing in the United States. Multilingual families are exceedingly diverse and policies relevant to them should take this into account. The quantity and quality of a child’s exposure to responsive conversation spoken by fluent adults predicts both monolingual and multilingual language and literacy achievement.
Pace, A., Alper, R., Burchinal, M., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2018). Measuring success: Within- and cross-domain predictors of academic and social trajectories in elementary school. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 46, 112-125. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.04.001.
Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Grob, R., & Schlesinger, M. (2017). “Oh the places you’ll go” by bringing developmental science into the world. Child Development, 1403-1408.
Grob, R., Schleisinger, M., Pace, A., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2017). Playing with ideas: Evaluating a collective experimental intervention designed to enrich perceptions of play. Child Development, 1419-1434.
Hassinger-Das, B., Toub, T. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2017). A matter of principle: Applying language science to the classroom and beyond. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 3, 5-18. doi: 10.1037/tps0000085.
Golinkoff, R., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2016). Becoming Brilliant: What science teaches us about raising successful children APA Press.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2016). The preschool paradox: It’s time to rethink our approach to early education. SCIENCE, 351, 1158.
Morhring, W., Ramsook, K., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Newcombe, N. (2016). Where music meets space: Children’s sensitivity to continuous pitch magnitudes is related to mental spatial transformations. Cognition, 151, 1-5.
Hirsh-Pasek, K. & Golinkoff, R. M. (2016). Two missions in search of a shared culture. In D. Sobel & J. Jipson (Eds.), Cognitive development in museum settings: Relating research and practice (pp. 222-230). NY: Routledge.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray, J., Robb, M., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in educational apps: Lesson for the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3-34.
Weisberg, D. S., Kittredge, A. K., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Klahr, D. (2015). Guided play: Making play work for education. Phi Beta Kappan, 96(8), 8-13.
Verdine, B. N., Lucca, K. R., Golinkoff, R. M., Newcombe, N. S., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2015). The shape of things: The origin of young children’s knowledge of the names and properties of geometric forms. Journal of Cognition and Development, 12, 315-331.
Verdine, B., Irwin, C., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2014). Contributions of executive function and a new test of spatial-geometric skill to preschool mathematics achievement. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126, 37-51.
Verdine, B., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Newcombe, N. (2014). Finding the missing piece: Blocks, puzzles, and shapes fuel school readiness. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 7-13.
Weisberg, D., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & McCandliss, B. (2014). Mis en place: Setting the stage for thought and action. Trends in Cognition, 276-278.
Friedman, S., Scholnick, E., Bender, R., Vandergift, N., Spieker. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Keating, D., Park, Y., & NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2014). The growth of planning in middle childhood: Early predictors and later outcomes. Child Development, 85(4), 1446-1460.
McCabe, A., Tamis-LeMonda, C., Bornstein, M., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Hoff, E., Kuchiro, Y., Melzi, G., Mendelson, A., Paez, M., Song, L., & Wishard, A. (2013). Multilingual children: Beyond myths towards best practices. Foundation for Child Development: Social Policy Report, 27(4).
Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Bruer, J. (2007). The Brain/Education Barrier. Science, 317, 1293.
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2005). Pathways to reading. The role of oral language in learning to reading. Developmental Psychology, 41(2), 428-442.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Kochanoff, A., Newcombe, N., & de Villiers, J. (2005). Using scientific knowledge to inform preschoolers: Making the case for “Empirical validity.” Social Policy Report: Society for Research in Child Development.
Kochanoff, A., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Newcombe, N., & Weinraub, M. (2003, January). Using science to inform preschool assessment. CIRLC Report from the Temple University Forum on Preschool Assessment.