Klea Scharberg

Motivation, Attention, Memory, Cognition, and Action

Human beings are born to learn. During the last few decades, developmental science has exploded with discoveries of how, specifically, learning happens. This provides us with an unprecedented window into children's minds: how and when they begin to think, perceive, understand, and apply knowledge.

Author, Whole Child Podcast guest, and Whole Child Virtual Conference presenter Wendy Ostroff builds on this research, and in her book Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom, she shows you how to harness the power of the brain, the most powerful learning machine in the universe. She highlights the processes that inspire or propel learning—play, confidence, self-regulation, movement, mnemonic strategies, metacognition, articulation, and collaboration—and distills the research into a synthesis of the most important takeaway ideas that teachers will need as they design their curriculum and pedagogy. Ostroff writes:

Incorporating developmental science research into the classroom means shifting the focus of education from teaching back to learning. In the United States, the content of schooling is determined at the state, local, and national level and is often given the highest priority. Students' ability to remember facts for standardized tests determines how well their schools will get funded. But what children learn depends on how they learn. And to figure that out, we need to examine the many levels of the developmental system in which children's brains, bodies, and minds are functioning.

Learning is a complex set of interactive and situated processes which recursively set up the individual's future experiences. Human beings are born to learn. We have evolved over tens of thousands of years to do it efficiently and easily, with all of the stimulation we need already present in our surroundings and our lives. The components of children's learning, motivation, attention, memory, cognition, and action, and the processes that propel and inspire them are the topics of this book. I hope to introduce a new way for teachers to think about learning, based on the perspectives and the findings of developmental scientists.


Does knowing that the mind of the infant and child is the most powerful and perceptive that it will ever be in life change the way that you feel about birth, childcare, or early childhood education?

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