I read this article today on a new book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. The emphasis is on what it is parents can do to nurture and support learning. It's worth a read.
My work with older (preschool children) on mediated learning shows that it's not only about exposing children to language that helps them learn it, it's helping them understand what to pay attention to and to learn to regulate their own attention-- essentially learning how to learn.
In some ways, this isn't all that different from mediated learning, but it seems to do a nice job in providing information based on the vast amount of scientific literature that is available.
How should parents help children learn to learn. One aspect is attention. Many homes around the world are information rich. There's a lot of information-- visual, auditory, sensory-- that babies and young children (and we as adults) need to learn to organize and grapple with. So, an important skill becomes learning how to attend to one thing at a time within the information stream. Parents are instrumental in helping children to pay attention to what's important (and to ignore what's not important). One way parents can do this is through repetition (and variation). Babies seem to like routine-- they find comfort in it. At the same time the novel is fun. By keeping the same basic routine, but varying one thing (or two) at a time, babies can learn to pay attention and look for the novel.
That's it for now. More on this and other topics later.