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The article “Late Learner” by Dvorak (2006), discusses the general opinion about the importance of an early child development. It also illuminates the all-American-parent issue of the overrated panic that their child will be undereducated, or left out in any sense. Sharing some personal experience which the author has gone through, the writer exposes to the reader both common sense opinions, as well as the scientific research results. To support her thesis, the author points out to the most challenging moments which she had to overcome while solving this problem personally. This paper takes a closer look at the issue of pre-schooling and the importance of an early development by enrolling into various institutions or programs itself. Also, it analytically examines the indicated issue from the psychological perspective. The paper segments the author’s evidence and the credibility from the perspective of the social learning theory.

The social learning theory is a compulsive framework of psychological models which try to explain the patterns that people or animals engage into during the process of learning. Many of these theories, which are included into the framework, base on the importance of social contact. According to the range of these theories, we learn mainly by observing the actions of other people, and copying them, hoping for the same outcomes. The concerning issue, which was discussed in the article is based on the importance of learning through social contact, taking example from the peers. According to Piaget, the cognitive development was accomplished progressively on four stages of intellectual advancement. Piaget noted that child development in average occurs at approximately the same time in all individuals. In such a way, being concerned regarding ceasing the moment of enrolling a toddler into a school does make sense. Using the social learning theory and the Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, this paper analyses the article by Dvorak in more details.

First, Petula explains her situation from the perspective of personal experience. Being new at the position of a parent, the author deliberately discloses her concerns regarding the lack of knowledge one might encounter by the time one gets to be a parent. Having no possibility to hire someone to take care of the child, Petula had to manage taking care of the child all by herself: grasping the information, learning, and performing at the same time. The writer tells us how she accidentally learned that a mother should think ahead about the future of the child.

This can be considered the first example of social learning. Without having thought of it, Mrs. Dvorak has never been planning to apply her child to a school at this age if it wasn’t because of the other mothers, who have already made such plans. The writer learned that this is a social norm, and has taken the example from it. Having no background information on this issue, the author explains that she has learnt it from other individuals who had been fulfilling the same role, and obviously had more experience by now. Such approach can be confusing, as a lot of information which circulates can provide with false expectations. Exactly for this reason, it has occurred that the pre-school institutions have long waiting lists for children to enroll, even though it seems like they were born yesterday.

Second, assuming that other mothers are putting their children to schools at such young age, Petula decides to do the same in order to benefit her child and help the better development. Along with the general opinion of the public, Dvorak sites the results of the recent researches by Zero to Three, which is a nonprofit organization that works on the well-being of children from the early years of life: “Babies are born learning. From the time of conception to the first day of kindergarten, development proceeds at a pace exceeding that of any subsequent stage of life”. Obviously, Piaget’s stages of cognitive development indicate that the cognitive development of a child happens gradually. True, according to the theory of social learning, the child would be better off if one develops in the social circles along with other children. Therefore, giving the child away into a special developmental program at early stages of life would not be such a bad idea.

Nevertheless, referring to Piaget’s stages, her 20 months son is still at the sensorimotor stage of development. This means that the toddler is aware of the objects and can focus on them, experiments with activities, and learns about the world mainly by trial and error, in such a way stating that according to the baby at this stage the world is revolving around him. In such a way, it is still too early for a child to get into a developmental program because they will not benefit as much from it, as the children who have already reached the preoperational developmental stage and can benefit from interaction with their peers as well.

However, the author exposes the third argument to contrast with the idea that it is still too early to apply for pre-school. The author states the position of Libby Doggett, who states that the children who “start behind, stay behind”. She explains that the pre-kindergarten programs are extremely important for the reason of being prepared to receive the knowledge. In other words, the knowledge received in the kindergarten will not have any sense for a child, unless one has acquired a necessary informational base beforehand, especially in an environment which teaches them to socialize even at this early stage of life.

The author brings up her conversation with Kim Means, the senior director of accreditation for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, who suggests that even though the child is still too young, it can benefit from such programs. According to the theory of social learning, social exposure is vital at any age. Therefore, being placed within the circle of peers, or play dates even at such young age helps to accommodate and get used to the process of learning, become more aware of the social exposure. Whereas, it is difficult to find so many different play mates, the reason for growing popularity of pre-school and pre-kindergarten institution is obvious. In any case, such trend among the young children expands the number of the credible pre-kindergarten institutions, giving the green light for enrolling younger and younger children into the programs, setting the new norms of social and cognitive development.

To sum up, this paper has analyzed the ideas laid out in the article “Late Learner” by Dvorak from the perspective of the framework of social learning theories. The writer had expressed the assumptions that early child development in the social setting is extremely important even at the very young age, when developmentally a child is still not ready for the social contacts with peers. She emphasizes that a parent should be prepared to start looking for developmental centers as soon as they are born. Dvorak supports her arguments supplying them with the evidence of the recent researches made in this sphere. What she does not consider, however, is the fact that the evidence of the need to enroll a child into a developmental program is more theoretical, than practical and can be predisposed more to a social trend than a necessity. The theories of social learning do emphasize the importance of learning from observation through the contact, trial and error, and shared or parallel gaming. Nonetheless, it does not state any evidence on it being beneficial before the age the child becomes actually aware of the social contact with other than his caregivers. Basing on the theory of social learning, the usefulness of childhood developmental programs can occur at the precise time for it.

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