Active Exploration Promotes Child Development

This is the fourth blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click here for part 1, click here for part 2, and click here for part 3.


Children are motivated to learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live (Wittmer & Petersen 2010).

Have you ever watched a newborn infant learn? They accidentally pass their hand in front of their face and you can just see the look of surprise and imagine what they might be thinking. “What was that? Where did it go? When is it coming back? Oh, there it is again!” Of course, at that age, they haven’t learned much language yet, but that is what they would say if they could verbalize. Give them a few weeks and they will have learned to hold their hand in front of their face and can watch as they wiggle their fingers. They are so easily fascinated (says the parent who watches by the hour, totally fascinated.)

Babies have a great desire to learn and they are always on the move. They want to talk and walk, to make things shake, rattle, and roll. They want to do things for themselves. They want to copy what they see others doing. They are curious about everything and even set goals for themselves, such as getting across the floor to see how that dog food tastes. They develop strategies and test them out, finding what works best to accomplish those goals.

Our children also look to us to give them feedback and encouragement. They will look at us to see us clap and smile, and then learn to do so in return. They love to copy the expressions that they see and the sounds that they hear. They count on us to be there to keep them safe as they explore this big new world. As they advance through each stage, they constantly turn as if to say, “Look at me! I can do it myself!” Wow! You certainly can. Good for you!

We don’t have to buy expensive toys or the latest gadgets to help our children to learn.

We just have to

  • provide them with a few basic toys and household items let them explore; and
  • read to them every day which helps strengthen your relationship with your child, helps them with basic language skills and helps prepare them for academic success.

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: prenatal-infant- toddler/


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