Thursday, April 9, 2015

How Do Babies Learn?

Ever since my sister and her family left a few months ago, after a few weeks of being here with us, Raghav has had this fascination for babies and how they learn. For the first time, he showed a keen interest in babies, read up a little before they arrived, and absolutely enjoyed playing with his three month old little brother while he was here. And after that, off and on, he has been talking about baby-related stuff and expressing a desire to visit them soon.

Yesterday, while driving back home, he once again told me how he was waiting to see A and how excited he was to know that he was now crawling around. What followed was yet another interesting conversation about babies.....

R: " I can't wait to see A.....he must have grown so much already.....he must be now moving around on his own....what fun! I can't wait for him to start speaking! When do babies speak? When they are about one year old no?....I can't wait to hear his voice! I wonder what it will sound like!"

I must say that I have also had a fascination for babies and how they learn, but I have never thought about hearing what their 'voice would sound like'! What he said reflected pure, child-like wonder that is so beautiful in its simplicity.

And then out popped this question from him:
"How do babies learn? Does it all come from their genes? How do they babble and then speak? How do they learn that?"

Me: "I think it is partly to do with genes, and partly to do with the environment. They start with exploring their bodies, their tongue, mouth etc. and then the people around them respond to that, give meaning to that, which affects what the baby does the next time, and the next and so on. How do you think they learn?"

R: "I think they learn by making mistakes. They explore their environment and while exploring, they make mistakes, and that tells them what to do or not to do the next time. Like for example, if a baby crawls around and bumps into a chair or a wall, then by bumping his head and getting hurt, he comes to know that if he crawls like that, he will get hurt, or that it will make him feel that way the next time he will be careful, or change the way he moves...or he learns that he should not do something."

Me: "So you feel that mistakes are important, because they help us learn?"

R: "Yes."

Me (smiling): "Then why is it that you get so upset when you make a mistake? Like when you try and write something and it does not come out the way you want it to.....why do you get upset? Isn't that how you will also learn?"

R (smiling): "Yes....I don't know....maybe it's because with babies it is different...and when you become big like I am, it's different...."

And he went on to talk about a video he had recently watched, which spoke about the speed with which our brains react to something from outside.... :)

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