Research Topic

Pre- or Post- School Influences on Learning Adaptations, Risks and Disabilities in Children and Adolescents: Overlapping Challenges for Public Health, Education and Development

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About this Research Topic

Historically, within developmental science, the study of child and adolescent learning has focused on aspects such as cognitive deficits and learning limitations, specifically tied to individual academic performance in the classroom.

Most recent approaches have revealed that individual learning ...

Historically, within developmental science, the study of child and adolescent learning has focused on aspects such as cognitive deficits and learning limitations, specifically tied to individual academic performance in the classroom.

Most recent approaches have revealed that individual learning processes, drawn from early life environments and especially families and peers, are systemic, complex determinants (not necessarily single-mechanism causes). These influences imply reciprocal relationships between factors outside the classroom and within. Consequently, a new emerging perspective is that any ‘’deficit’’ and/or disability and conversely any achievement is not the result of a single event, such as an isolated reaction, but it is formed, through numerous biosocial contributing variables, during a child’s attempt to adapt to learning conditions and settings, inside and outside school. The fit between such adaptations and normative criteria (set by educational and social standards) is often associated with labels such as, for example, “fulfilment”, “strengths” “resiliency” or “weaknesses”, “risk”, “vulnerability” and “disability”.

This Research Topic will explore the overlapping challenges and themes related to developmental adaptations (as defined above) in the context of formal and informal settings for learning within childhood and then more generally within the life-span.

Here, a forum is offered for multidisciplinary applied developmental research, including learning sciences, developmental neuroscience, public health, education, psychology, and all other allied disciplines.

The goal is to illuminate the influence of systemic determinants on individuals, inside and outside schools. Therefore, we aim to collect papers that not only explore what children and adolescents learn in school settings or to what extent they are influenced by their academic environment but also how their preferences, styles and predispositions are shaped by the social and biological activities that form the background of their everyday living.

For example, papers exploring how a different daily life, in terms of needs and habits - such as nutrition, sleep, leisure, technology exposure and use, and media consumption – or an interpersonal relationship – like the quality of parent-child relationships, intimate relationships, interaction with peers and early life experiences – as well as many other related areas, impact a child’s academic performance and social behaviour.

Particularly welcome is research addressing integrated issues of education, development and public health, which suggest efficiently, economically viable and sustainable local, global and universal or targeted programs. We seek out papers analyzing outside-the-classroom processes, trends and trajectories of child health, development and learning and how they interact, influence or correlate with inside-the-classroom processes during childhood. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

1) Shared core challenges and opportunities across fields and approaches for public health, education and learning sciences
2) Psycho-socio-biological influences on school learning
3) New media and technology impacts on school learning
4) The impact of school learning on human development
5) Interaction between public health and informal vs formal school learning
6) How policy shapes learning inside and outside schools
7) Global and local determinants of adaptations, risk and disabilities
8) Early childhood and family, parenting dynamics and parent-child relationships
9) Determinants of adolescent and emerging adulthood outcomes


Keywords: learning, school learning, life-span development, learning risks, learning disabilities


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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