Children Learn From Other People

People are the key to children’s early development. Children can learn by individual exploration or observation, but there’s no substitute for human interaction! Babies learn best during face-to-face interactions.

For example, researchers found that interaction style affects how 9-month-olds learn sounds from foreign languages. Babies learned foreign sounds from a live interaction. But they did not learn the sounds from watching a video. Are you surprised by these results? Why do you think children learned from a live interaction but not through video?

One possibility is that face-to-face interactions allow turn taking. Adults can respond in real time to what the child is doing or saying. They might look where a child is looking, or label a new object. But when a child watches a video, the person on the screen cannot react to the child’s behavior or provide the same social cues that a live person can.

  • Back-and-forth or contingent interactions
    exchanges in which a caregiver times her responses to a child’s behavior
    observing then reproducing, or copying, a behavior
    Infant-directed speech
    a special tone and style of speech used to talk to young children. It’s also called parentese.
    the support a caregiver provides a child to help her achieve more than she would be able to accomplish on her own