A Child’s World - How Young Children Learn
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.—Albert Einstein
Babies live in a completely perceptual world, as all their knowledge comes through their available senses. They begin their lives with an impressive ability to take in, organize, and process these perceptions, and thus make sense of their world (Gonzalez-Mena & Widmeyer Eyer, 2001). Infants are responsive to touch and pain and are able to respond to objects placed in hand. They are able to distinguish between sweet, sour, and bitter tastes and smells, preferring the sweet ones. They adapt their head movements as their eyes move and scan their environment for interesting sights and moving objects. Infants will also turn in the direction of a sound. They prefer complex sounds to pure tones and are capable of distinguishing certain sound patterns (Berk, 2006).
As infants perceive the world around them, they pay attention and make sense of their perceptions. Thus, their attention is interwoven with what they perceive (Bruning, Schraw, Norby, & Ronning, 2004). It is the attention to these perceptions that gives infants experiences that will lead to memory, which is the retaining of impressions and experiences, and conceptual knowledge, which is nothing the construction of meaning about the impressions and experiences. This development is short of miraculous.
At birth, the world of each child consists of only their immediate surroundings: the sounds of commotion and peacefulness that the infant senses in the environment, the security of being held by a parent or caregiver, the bright rays of light from a lamp, or a cool breeze from the window. Infants are quite captivated by people’s actions. They learn and remember by perceiving such actions in their world. Infants do not need to be as physically active to acquire new information as they will later, when motor activity will facilitate certain aspects of perception and cognition (Berk, 2006).
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