chapter  2
16 Pages

Four- and five-year-old children’s understandings of time and the future

The previous chapter drew on a growing body of research to explore the issue of youth commentaries on the future. Very little research exists, however, to guide our thinking on the fundamental issue of pre-school children’s thinking about these issues. The handful of studies that are available have argued that young children tend to view the future much more positively than do older children. Ray Lorenzo, for example, cites an American comparison of the drawings of pre-school, primary and high school children which concluded that the pre-school children perceived the future in more positive and humorous terms than their older counterparts whose drawings depicted the future with a ‘progressive lack of expressiveness and excitement’ (Lorenzo 1989). Gisele Trommsdorff reached similar conclusions with the finding that children in first grade evaluated the future less positively than younger children and that their powers of anticipation were less developed than those of younger children (Trommsdorff 1993: 381-406). These findings correlate, in turn, with Hicks’ related study of seven-year-old children and their older counterparts, which found that optimism towards personal and global futures decreases with age (Hicks 1996a: 1-13).