The intellectual education plays a crucial role in the process of developing not only the child’s mental attributes, his intellect and cognitive processes, but also his emotions, will and behavior. Through the intellectual education the child creates a system of knowledge adequate to his age, adopts basic mental processes and develops speech. The evolution of his mental abilities and skills are influenced by deviations of his cognitive functions and by the impact of the environment, i.e. primarily the interaction with parents, peers and the environment where the child grows up. Good relationship between the parents and the children is considered to be the basic condition for the healthy development.
As a fundamental component of a universal and harmonious education of a child, the intellectual education develops:
- sensuous cognition, speech and thinking,
- adoption of knowledge of individual sciences, art and technology, intellectual skills and habits,
- abilities for creative intellectual activity, rational and productive learning,
- abilities to apply theoretical knowledge to a practical activity.
Within the intellectual education, the child develops his skills in three related and interconnected fields of knowledge:
The development of cognition within the framework of the child’s education is based primarily on his natural desire for knowledge. In general, the child enjoys to get to know something new and he sees this path to cognition as an interesting game where he applies the cognitive emotions, interests and abilities.
The child creates a relatively comprehensive system of knowledge, feelings, attitudes and values by means of cognition based on experiential learning and sensory perception. The child’s cognitive skills are further deepened by developing the thinking process, attention and memory, as well as an active use of speech and imagination.
The development of cognition is a very rewarding process for the child, as he gradually gains permanent habits, skills and knowledge concerning the nature, social and technical environment, colors and new objects.
The preschool child’s mathematical literacy defines the ability of a child to use the mathematical imaginations and thinking in the process of communication and to utilize it actively to deal with various real life situations. The negative consequences of the child’s late development of mathematical ideas can be also observed during the math lessons at school. The delayed mathematical cognition comes through in various examples: the child adopts the notion of the natural numbers with difficulty, he relies more on the mechanical finger-counting and he does not understand the shift from ones to tens. The child prefers mechanical thinking, he does not understand the relations between the numbers or the nature of mathematical operations.
The development of mathematical thinking during the preschool age should primarily concentrate on supporting the child’s interest in mathematics as a whole. By instigating the interest in mathematical thinking, the child can further develop his logical thinking and create basic concepts about size, shape, number of objects, effects and their place in time and space.
The most natural way of how the preschool children create their basic mathematical concepts are games, exercises, fairy tales, solving of various assignments, children’s songs, didactic games, educational software or discussions. Therefore, do not forget to create appropriate conditions for a child to seek and examine mathematical relations and connections. Let us instigate the mathematical curiosity in the course of the child’s everyday exploration of the world or his seemingly simple manipulation with the toys.
As far as the child’s speech is concerned, there is a significant progress in development at the age of two (sometimes even sooner). The child’s thinking becomes verbal and his speech intellectual. The most characteristic feature and proof of such development are the questions concerning objects which had become a focal point of the child’s actual interest – how is it called etc. It is very important for the parents to listen to the child with patience and answer all of his questions, so that the child will be able to create a basic vocabulary with their assistance. He will then expand the vocabulary in time.
To teach the child how to communicate doesn’t mean to teach him how to recognize and describe specific language phenomena. The child spontaneously utilizes the speech without knowing the rules of the language. Not only can the child sense the language rules, but he can also use them intuitively.
From that perspective, there is more emphasis put on the speech rather than the language during the preschool age. The emphasis is placed on developing the child’s expressive skills, vocabulary, active listening, understanding phonology and the notion of concept. The child adopts the basics of the standard language, develops his vocabulary and standard pronunciation, distinctness of his speech, grammatical correctness of the speech and his communication skills.
The development of a preschool child in terms of language and speech does not lie in the conventional process of teaching how to read or how to write, which is typical of schooling. It is also important to realize that there is no point in getting the preschool child to know how to read and write; there is no advantage and the children do not need to know that. The language and speech education of a child is perceived as a rather spontaneous process of the child’s development.
In this respect, the parents and their efforts should cause the child to realize that the spoken and written form of language are closely correlated and they are a part of our everyday life. Firstly, the child should be able to understand the principle of reading and therefore to realize that a word corresponds with the text in a book as well as the real object. It is also very important for a child to understand that he is reading letters, not pictures and that the text contains valuable information while reading lines from left to right and from top to bottom. Such perception of reading can be achieved by letting the child to observe other people reading and by encouraging him to try to read by himself. The child should therefore have enough opportunities to see the teacher or parents reading from a close range. The more intensive and often the child is in a contact with the culture of writing, the bigger the assumption that his reading and writing abilities will be much more developed by the time he reaches his school age.
Each field of intellectual education, whether it is cognition, mathematical thinking or language and speech encompasses and develops number of abilities. As the child grows older, this number gets bigger.