A Comparison of the Effects of Experiencing Pre-School Education and Living in an Orphanage on Basic Concepts Acquisition

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the factors related with living with own family or living in an orphanage cause any differences by means of understanding of basic concept between first and second graders. Also, the effects of attending preschool in early years on concept knowledge for the sample group were investigated. The sample of the study consisted of 173 children (113 children living with their parents and 60 children living in an orphanage) who were residing in Istanbul. 60 (46.7%) children from orphanages attended preschool; 21.7 % did not. There was no information about 31,6 % of the children whether they attended preschool or not. On the other hand, 40.7 % of the children living with their parents did not attend preschool whereas the rest of them did. The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts (BOEHM-3) was administered to the children to assess young children's understanding of the basic relational concepts. Results indicated significant differences among the groups. Whereas the children from the higher socio-economic group had the highest scores, the children from orphanages had the lowest scores. Among these groups of children the amount of time spent in preschool affected the scores. Children attended preschools more had the highest scores. Also, second graders who were staying with their families had significantly higher scores than children who were living in institutions. However, there was not such a difference between first grade children.

Key Words

Orphanage Child, Concept, Preschool Education, Primary Education.

In general, a concept is a form of the representative information of changeable common qualities and the characteristics of various objects and forms explained by the words (Howard, 1987, cited in Ülgen, 1996). For Solomon and his colleagues, concepts are the basic constructions of the cognition. Concept formation and development are the basic themes of the cognitive development. According to Dahler and Bukatko, the basic level concepts in Rosch's theory includes mostly information and are based on sensory-motor characteristics; so it is beneficial that the first concepts in the early years should be in basic level concepts.

The basic concepts are utilized to describe and identify the qualities of objects and mention on characteristics of people (beautiful, long, tall, small, and big), the positions in the space (in, on, under, near, behind), the time (before, after) the quantities (much, little, less) and they are necessary for the children to understand and acquire the information in the schools. The basic concepts are crucial in order to be successful in the schools. The researchers point out in the early years children acquire and develop many basic concepts. However there might be many pre-school children, who do not have enough basic concepts, starting to primary education. Also the researchers emphasize that the children with learning difficulties tend to have more problems related to basic concepts and the inadequate learning experiences in early childhood may lead to some differences in concept development. Boehm (2001) suggests that practitioners especially try to prepare the activities that are planned to decrease the existing differences and inequalities of concept learning and language development between children. Furthermore, the social and physical conditions of the environment are also important for child development. Many researchers remarked that the negative environmental conditions such as inadequate child rearing practices or welfare, child negligence, staying in orphanages have some negative impacts on children's cognitive, language, psycho-motor, and social developments (Fries and Pollack, 2004; Nalven, 2005).

In this study, it was aimed to compare and contrast the concepts level of grade 1 and grade 2 children who had experiences of pre-school education or not and staying with their own families or in an orphanage. …