Information on Bright Start
Benefiting from the
theoretical positions of Vygotsky, Piaget, Feuerstein, Haywood,
and Gibson, the program relies on a mediational style of teaching,
is concentrated in 7 curriculum "units," and includes
a cognitive-mediational system of behavior management as well as
a program of parent participation. It is available in English, French,
Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Dutch/Flemish, and
Hebrew, with Russian and Ukrainian editions in preparation and a
Chinese edition under consideration. Implementation of the program
requires special training for teachers and supervisors, which can
be given in intensive workshops of 30-40 hours beginning with certified
teachers. Materials consist of a teacher manual, a parent manual,
a set of theoretical papers, and a record-keeping booklet, all intended
for the use of adults and all available from the commercial publishers.
There are no consumable materials for children other than those
provided with the teacher manual for copying; thus, the materials
are re-useable, that is, there is nothing that has to be acquired
materials can be obtained from the American publisher of the English
edition: Charlesbridge Publishing, 85 Main Street, Watertown,
MA, USA, or from their website: www.charlesbridge.com
. There is also a Bright Start group email
On the group, it is possible to post queries
that will go to all members of the group, and to discuss with them
whatever issues might come up. Teacher trainers are available for
teaching in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Flemish/Dutch,
Finnish, German, and Hebrew, and can be identified by posting questions
on the site or by writing to the authors:email@example.com
The program has demonstrated
utility with typically developing children, culturally "different"
and linguistically different children, and children with a variety
of handicapping conditions, including mental retardation, severe
emotional disturbance, autism, learning disabilities, speech, hearing
, and language delays, and chronic illness.
From this review of the Bright
Start curriculum and the research that has been done on its effectiveness,
it is possible to reach some conclusions and to develop some new
1. When systematically applied by teachers who have
been trained in its methods, this program of cognitive/metacognitive
early education has demonstrated positive effects on IQ, although
that is not the most important criterion variable. Rather than believing
that the program results in increased intelligence, the authors'
interpretation of the IQ data is that cognitive early education
helps children to gain access to the intelligence that they already
have and to apply their intelligence more effectively and efficiently
to new learning.
2. There are indications that this program
may help to enhance children's development of a task-intrinsic motivational
orientation. The research support for such a conclusion is fairly
minimal, but the question itself is of prime importance. Other preschool
education programs have led to increased motivation to learn (Lazar
& Darlington, 1982), so such an outcome would not be surprising.
It is only through enhanced task-intrinsic motivational systems
that one can expect enthusiasm for and pursuit of learning to continue
past formal education. It is thus an essential ingredient if one
wishes to help people to become life-long independent learners.
3. There are also indications that this program can help to
"level the playing field" in such a way that children
with disabilities can be educated well in regular classes; i.e.,
it can help to avoid unnecessary and inappropriate special education
placement. As is true of the research on motivational effects, this
are has not been studied as extensively as have some other criterion
variables, and requires further empirical study.
program's positive effects on cognitive functioning and development
itself are well demonstrated. The effects of a cognitive intervention
on cognitive functioning and development, together with effects
on motivation, must be considered primary effects. Failure to find
such effects would mean that there would be little chance of discovering
effects of such secondary or tertiary variables as learning and
school achievement. These effects on cognitive functioning appear
also to be durable, which is a good basis for inferring that development
itself has been influenced.
5. The ultimate criterion
in studies of the effects of early education is subsequent school
achievement. In the United States, we are quite accustomed to seeing
early education programs produce positive effects on "predictor"
variables (such as IQ), and even on early school achievement, and
then watching in dismay as both effects disappear by the third or
fourth follow-up year. The studies reported here demonstrate convincingly
that a program of cognitive early education can have generalizable
and durable effects on school achievement across a variety of academic
subject domains. From a theoretical point of view, these results
help to answer affirmatively the question, "Is early cognitive
learning generalizable to later learning in different content domains?"
The data reported here bear upon
an issue that has become widespread around the world: the apparent
low level of educability in children who are from low socioeconomic
levels, who are culturally and/or linguistically different or even
the objects of social discrimination, or "transcultural"
(e.g., of recent immigrant status). These data, especially from
the Israeli and French studies, strongly suggest that cognitive
early education as represented in Bright Start can at least partially
overcome the educational disadvantage that is seen so often in so
many places in the world among such children, and can effectively
close the gap in educational achievement between poor children and
children from more advantaged circumstances. That prospect is encouraging
Brooks, P. H. & Haywood, H. C. (2003).
preschool mediational context: The Bright Start curriculum.
In A. S.-H. Seng, L. K.-H. Pou, & O.-S. Tan (Eds.), Mediated
learning experience with children: Applications across contexts,
Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).
specific goals of Bright Start
- To enhance and accelerate the development of basic
cognitive functions, especially those functions characteristic
of the cognitive developmental stage of concrete operations.
- To identify and remediate deficient cognitive
- To develop task-intrinsic motivation.
- To develop representational thought.
- To enhance learning effectiveness and readiness
for school leaning.
The Bright Start program
consists of seven cognitive units, each designed to address a fundamental
aspect of the cognitive functioning of preschool children. The units
may be taught in one-to-one or small group situations for a period
of about 30-40 minutes each day. It is recommended that these units
be taught in the following sequence:
Children learn to bring their
bodies under the control first of external stimuli and then of internal
stimuli (or self control). Children then learn to use their self
control in a social context.
2: Number Concepts:
Introduces basic number concepts
- amounts, numbers, ordinal relations, conservation. Starting with
one-to-one correspondence, children learn concepts that help them
respond to events in a quantitative, organized way.
Introduces the concept that we can
identify similarities and differences in a systematic way. Children
learn to define and make comparisons based on such characteristics
as size, shape, and color.
Develops the ability to take different
perspectives, first on the physical, and then on the social, level.
Children learn to consider other people's feelings and view-points.
This unit, like Self Regulation, is primarily social in nature.
Develops the function of classifying
across three dimensions - color, size, shape - and evolves into
representational classification (classifying without pictures).
6: Sequence and Pattern:
Children learn to identify
items within classes according to their serial position. The lessons
focus on number and pattern progression and finding patterns in
groups of stimuli.
7: Letter-Shape Concepts:
Children learn to identify
and classify objects and events according to certain prominent characteristics,
which will be crucial to the learning of the letters of the alphabet.