by Alix Tonsgard
I am, and have always been, a collector. Since early childhood, I have also found the collections of others fascinating. Later, in graduate school, I learned there is developmental significance in why children create collections and, to this day, it is one of my favorite developmental topics. Here’s the reason why I think it’s so cool: when children collect things, it’s an opportunity where you can actually see and participate in their cognitive development.
Today we’re just going to look at collecting during early childhood. Let’s use the two-year-old boy in my household as an example. Now is that time of year when the trees are starting to drop interesting looking treasures–pine cones, black walnuts, acorns, and all sorts of other seeds we have yet to identify but the little guy still wants to collect and examine them all. He also likes to collect cars, monster trucks, and glass vase filler beads.
So what does this have to do with his development? It suggests to me that his brain is working hard to master the ability to classify; this is an important part of a child’s cognitive development. When children classify they are organizing large amounts of information about experiences and objects in ways that allow them to access that information later. This is really important for learning and remembering and plays an important role in the development of logical and critical thinking and math and science skills.
The brain development that happens in early childhood and the way that EVERYTHING, from the way they think, move, form friendships, express their feelings, is all related and amazing. Nurture those desires to build collections, give them ways to store and organize them, engage in collecting and sorting, have conversations, ask questions, and if there is something that you don’t know, look it up together!
Read the full blog at dupagechildrens.org/blog.
Alix Tonsgard is an early learning specialist at the DuPage Children’s Museum.