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Early Stages - Looking

When children are born, they are said to be a blank slate, a tabula rasa if you will. So, how does this blank slate gets filled up? They learn. They learn of the world around them, and they learn about themselves. This article will briefly explore the first few steps your child takes as they learn and observe their world.

Firstly, children can learn through conditioning. It means that a behavior is likely to occur if a rewarding stimulus follows it. They may be able to remember information if they are being conditioned.

From a Piagetian perspective, your child will be in the sensorimotor stage from birth to 24 months. In this stage, your child learning through their actions (like pulling, touching, mouthing, and looking) and their senses. It is also in this stage that they achieve specific accomplishments. They learn causality; that is, if they shake a rattle, it makes a sound. At first, they lack object permanence. This means that objects cease to exist when they are not in their sights. So, for example, if you hide your child's teddy bear behind your back, it no longer exists for them. Your child will know that out-of-sight objects exist when they are 8 -10 months of age. Your child will move to goal-directed behavior.

Numerous studies examine babies' imitative capabilities. One study observed babies in their first 72 hours of life. The babies began to gradually display more complete imitation of an adult's facial expression like protruding the tongue or opening the mouth wide. There seems to be an interplay between learning by observing and learning by doing. Piaget, too, emphasized learning by doing. Piaget also talked about deferred imitation, that is, an imitation that occurs after a delay. Another study looks into this aspect and suggests that deferred imitation may occur at around nine months of age. One study found that this kind of impression is a strong predictor for producing communicative gestures at 14 months of age. One can sum it up and say that children learn through observation.

You can help your child learn new things by providing scaffolding. It is a concept where you provide them with support. Say, you're reading a picture book you can ask them leading questions like "Is that the Cat in the Hat?" Then, say your child is about 24- 30 months you can ask them questions of objects that are not in picture books; you can ask your child, "What sound does a cat make?"

Simply put, these are some of the first few steps your child will take. One would like to emphasize that learning occurs through their senses. Your child is taking in the world, its sounds, and smells. They learn how to function in the world. You can help with holding their hand and supporting them through this process.


Santrock, J. W. (2017). Chapter 5 Cognitive Development in Infancy. Life-Span Development, pp. 142- 152. McGraw- Hill Education.

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