As reported in Child Development, researchers at Harvard University, Boston College, and the University of California, Irvine, found that symbolic counting skills were the single biggest predictor of children's fair sharing behavior and that prompting children to count also improved this behavior.
"This is the first research to investigate whether symbolic counting exerts a causal impact on sharing behavior," said Nadia Chernyak, assistant professor of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. "We reasoned that children who do not share fairly would benefit from the modeling of proper counting behaviors thereby providing them with a behavioral tool that would facilitate fair sharing."
Sara Cordes, a psychology professor at Boston College added, "Children's behavior should not be evaluated with what we think they 'ought' to be doing, but with respect to their developmental stage and a full understanding of their current cognitive abilities and how they relate to social skills."
Interestingly, sharing also appears to correlate with later academic performance. In a research review cited in the book Illuminating Care by Carol Garboden Murray, Hyson and Taylor (2011) found, “preschool children who were observed sharing toys more often than their classmates demonstrated more prosocial skills 19 years later and children’s early positive social competence also correlates with academic success, being cognitively ready for school and having greater literacy skills.”
The Pedagogy and Practice of Care in
Early Childhood Communities
Illuminating Care: The Pedagogy and Practice of Care in Early Childhood Communities is a powerful exploration of caregiving as a vital component of education and child development and a crucial building block of human community and society.
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