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Babies learn about their world and make strong brain connections by experimenting and repeating things. They do this through doing things and seeing the effects.

Babies are constantly experimenting and learning about the world. In their experimenting, they use ‘cause and effect’.

Experimenting

Experimenting with cause and effect is when babies understand they can make things happen, for example, ‘What happens when I drop my spoon off the high chair?’

The baby wall frieze shows this in the picture with a baby in a high chair looking down to see where the spoon they’ve just dropped has gone. The message reads, ‘Let me do things over and over again … it helps me learn.’

A cause and effect scenario might look like this – after baby has ‘caused’ the spoon to drop, they make some sort of a noise to alert mum. The ‘effect’ is that she picks the spoon up and puts it back on the tray, to which baby responds by dropping it over the side again. This experimentation could go on all day.

Ask whānau:

  • Have you seen anything like this happening with your baby?
  • How is your baby experimenting?

Making brain connections through repetition

As babies receive information, they make brain connections. A baby will need to do some things over and over to test whether the same thing happens every time.

Through repeating these experiences, brain connections become stronger and lasting. They get covered in myelin too – a fatty coating that wraps around the axons of the brain cells and helps messages travel quickly and efficiently.

Babies are like little scientists learning from their experiments. They’ll move from one curious experiment to another as their interests change. Their brain is ready to learn different things at different times.

  • What have you noticed baby doing over and over again?
  • What do you think they might be learning from this?

There are lots of things they’ll be doing that they’re learning from:

  • noticing what happens when they drop, throw, shake or bang objects
  • looking for things that seem to have disappeared from sight
  • looking around, trying to find the source of sounds they hear
  • learning that when they wave, someone else will wave back and maybe say ‘ka kite’ or ‘bye-bye’
  • learning that if they splash water at bath time, everyone might get wet.

All of this is cause and effect.

Thinking about the learning that’s happening for baby through all their experimenting can help parents see that wiping up the bathroom floor (again) is the result of having a scientist in the whānau, rather than purely a household chore.

  • Would you like to see if baby’s interested in a new ‘cause and effect’ experiment?
  • What’s in the toy box or around the house that they could use?
  • Are there any items that are safe to stack that they can knock over?
  • Are there any things that will make interesting noises when they get banged together?

Baby is learning all the time, always exploring and experimenting.

How does this topic relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Tukuna ahau kia mahi, kia mōhio ai ahau me pēhea te ako – let me do things over and over again.

Six things children need – Te mahi pono – ngā hua me ngā hapa – consistency and consequences.

 

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