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Open Access The Development of Temporal Concepts: Learning to Locate Events in Time

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The Development of Temporal Concepts: Learning to Locate Events in Time

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A new model of the development of temporal concepts is described that assumes that there are substantial changes in how children think about time in the early years. It is argued that there is a shift from understanding time in an event-dependent way to an event-independent understanding of time. Early in development, very young children are unable to think about locations in time independently of the events that occur at those locations. It is only with development that children begin to have a proper grasp of the distinction between past, present, and future, and represent time as linear and unidirectional. The model assumes that although children aged two to three years may categorize events differently depending on whether they lie in the past or the future, they may not be able to understand that whether an event is in the future or in the past is something that changes as time passes and varies with temporal perspective. Around four to five years, children understand how causality operates in time, and can grasp the systematic relations that obtain between different locations in time, which provides the basis for acquiring the conventional clock and calendar system.

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK ; 2: Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

10.1163/22134468-00002094
/content/journals/10.1163/22134468-00002094
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A new model of the development of temporal concepts is described that assumes that there are substantial changes in how children think about time in the early years. It is argued that there is a shift from understanding time in an event-dependent way to an event-independent understanding of time. Early in development, very young children are unable to think about locations in time independently of the events that occur at those locations. It is only with development that children begin to have a proper grasp of the distinction between past, present, and future, and represent time as linear and unidirectional. The model assumes that although children aged two to three years may categorize events differently depending on whether they lie in the past or the future, they may not be able to understand that whether an event is in the future or in the past is something that changes as time passes and varies with temporal perspective. Around four to five years, children understand how causality operates in time, and can grasp the systematic relations that obtain between different locations in time, which provides the basis for acquiring the conventional clock and calendar system.

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2017-12-08
2018-09-24

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