The successful development of competent children is the parents' belief that they can influence their child's mental development. The table below gives specific suggestions to families on activities for creating a responsive learning environment most appropriate for infant from ten months through two years.

Caregiver Activities


Organize and design a safe physical environment that allows for a variety of sensory experiences; family living areas and outdoor areas should be available for exploration of the senses. Gives intellectual stimulation, supports later learning, strengthens perception and problem-solving abilities.
Visual: plants, fish in bowls, pictures, patterned objects, mirrors.  
Auditory: exposure to many types of music, voices, rhythms, singing, bells, drums, shakers, music boxes, animal sounds.  
Tactile: a variety of textures to feel (soft, hard, rough, smooth), sculpture, finger food, mud play, finger paints, painting with Jell-O.  
Olfactory: bakery smells, flower smells, farm and field smells.  
Gustatory: snacks of differing tastes and textures.  
Provide a variety of toys and household objects to play with: for stringing, nesting, digging, pounding, screwing; construction toys (pieces not too small), pegboards, record players, magnets, magnetic letters, alphabet blocks, prisms, water toys, flashlights, spin tops, jigsaw puzzles, magnifying glasses, dolls, collections of small objects, toy animals, various household tools, books, and art materials.  
Play games like hide-and-seek, treasure hunts, guessing games, matching and sorting, finger games, circle games; encourage and provide materials for imitative play, such as "I do what you do." Facilitates concept development, practice in planning and carrying out complicated projects, anticipating consequences, developing skills of problem solving.
Teach child to be aware of and name objects in the environment (including baby's own body parts). This can be done by playing games with the caregiver, giving names to objects as they are used. Provides language experience.
Look at scrapbooks with child, read books to child, make books familiar. Be sure to involve the child in the reading activities; help child "read" stories to dolls, other siblings, relatives. Provides symbolic language experience.
Make scrapbooks with the child of pictures of animals, cars, trips. These can become the child's own books. Gives language experience.
Talk to baby during all caregiving activities: bathing, dressing, eating; use patterns of speech with baby that you use with other members of the family; short 20- to 30-second "conversations" are important.* Helps baby to understand more complicated sentences, increases language background and experience.
Include child in your activities whenever possible: cooking-use bowls and utensils; writing-child can write with crayons; painting-child can paint with water. Builds self-esteem while giving the child a better understanding of your work.
Toddlers spend most of their time gaining information, building concepts, and observing.  


*When engaging children in "conversation" try to talk about what they are doing from their perspective. Try to understand their meaning for the activity and what they may be learning from it. Then try to give them something new and interesting to think about along the same lines. Allow children to initiate the activity and then respond enthusiastically, but be careful not to insist on doing it only your way.

Also use language to heighten curiosity and develop interest. Teach children vocabulary words to express their interests by engaging them at the point of interest. This will further help children see adults as valuable resources. Talk to your child even before you are sure the child understands what you are saying. It is important to use a variety of speech patterns and normal conversational intonations. Remember, you are the model. Although the act of repeating sounds the baby makes is fun and can be enjoyed by both adult and baby, the child needs good speech models and language patterns. Babytalk does not provide a useful model for children to emulate. Children do create unusual patterns for their own use. However, repitition of these patterns by the adult limits children to those unique patterns.