More about learning from active experience

Repeated perception-action cycles with embedded exploration and selection provides the experience needed for learning new abilities.

Will (5 months) playing with two toys

In this video clip you see Will playing with two different toys, each toy eliciting different exploratory behaviors. The intensity of Will's attention to the task at hand is reminder that typically developing infants spend a great deal of time honing their movement abilities. 

In our work with infants who have movement difficulties, we need to keep in mind that learning new motor abilities takes time and dedicated practice, and we need to work with parents to build practice opportunities into the daily routines and to acquire the skills needed to help the infants stay focussed and engaged for extended periods of time.     

"Object exploration behaviors form the foundation for future development across domains. For instance, active experience with objects informs infants about the properties of objects and facilitates their learning of object discrimination, categorization, tool use, and language. The ability to act on objects likely plays a key role in early development because it is a strong determinant of the amount and type of information that is available for infants to perceive, process, and use for learning." (Lobo et al 2014)


.Will 5m holding rings 1.jpg

In this video clip you first see Will (5 months 3 weeks) playing with a two 2 plastic links and a rattle.

When playing with the the two plastic links he spends time exploring different options for grasping the them,  moving the links from one hand to the other, trying out different ways of holding them and exploring the different ways the two links relate to each other.  His attention is focussed on his hands. 

You see Will getting his fingers wrapped around one of the links, sometimes holding one link and sometimes both (one in each hand).  Sometimes he gets all his fingers neatly wrapped around the narrow band that forms the link, but at other times the grasp is less "neat".

Will 5m holding rings 1.jpg    W 5m3w palmar grasp bilat coordination 2.jpg    W 5m3w palmar grasp bilat coordination 3.jpg

You will also see him opening the hand wide as he reaches to grasp - but at this age the alignment of the hand relative to the object to be grasped is exploratory and he uses visual guidance to get the hand to the right position. 

W 5m3w palmar grasp bilat coordination 1_1.jpg

You also see Will holding a rattle firmly in one hand as he shakes it vigorously.

W 5m3w rattle 1.jpg   

The he opens the other hand, reaches towards the bulb of the rattle and adjusts the position of his hand to face it, ready for grasping it. Notice how the two hands work together as he does this movement.  

      W 5m3w rattle 4.jpg   W 5m3w rattle 3.jpg W 5m3w rattle 2.jpg

Video clip: Will 5 months 3 weeks

Lobo, M. A., Kokkoni, E., de Campos, A. C., & Galloway, J. C. (2014). Not just playing around: infants' behaviors with objects reflect ability, constraints, and object properties. Infant behavior & development, 37(3), 334–351. ​

Comments and observations
Did you notice the repeated perception-action cycles?  What struck you as particulalry  interesting?   What surprised you?