Teaching Infants

In Piaget’s ‘preparational stage’, which occurs between the ages of 2 and 7, children begin to use words and images to represent the world around them, signifying the beginnings of symbolic thinking. In order to lay the foundation for this development, however, the infant must experience success in the sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years), as they focus on ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ and connecting that with the physical world. In fact, the leap from ‘connection’ to ‘representation’ is the primary indication that a child has progressed. (Santrock, 2013)

Something that I have learned to do with my infant daughter (she is 1), and which I believe her daycare teachers do as well, is walk around the house, point at objects, and say their name. In addition to that, I narrate actions: “Okay, we’re going to get into the carseat now. This is going to be so exciting. We’re going to drive to the park and walk around and watch all the people riding bikes and playing golf on the green grass. I bet they’ll think you’re so cute in your fluffy coat and pretty pink shoes!” These actions often illicit odd looks in crowded places (malls, restaurants, airports), but pediatricians always say that having detailed conversation with the infant is a key to developing not only verbal skills but child imagination. I believe story time would have similar effects.

Santrock, J.W. (2013) Children (12th ed.). Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill Education.

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