The Physical Foundations of Intellect
All parents want their kids to be intelligent. Unfortunately, many parents make the mistake of assuming that the sooner they engage their little one in “intellectual” activities involving letters, numbers, etc., the more of a “head start” the child will have when it comes to the growth of her mind.
It is wise to note that Jean Piaget, the Swiss developmental psychologist who is widely regarded as the foremost authority on the growth of the mind during the early years, refers to the first stage of cognitive development, which covers the period from birth to approximately two years of age, as the “sensorimotor” period. He points out that infants and toddlers are not really “thinkers.” In the beginning, children deal with the world primarily through their senses and motor movements.
Thinking involves the ability to capture information and experience in some kind of mental representational form then store it, organize it, retrieve it, manipulate it, etc. And it is not until a child is six months old that she begins to become capable of mental representation, and that capability then grows gradually over the next year to year-and-a-half. It is not until sometime around the second birthday that these mental processes become sufficiently routine and efficient that she actually can start “using her head” to deal with the world.
Consequently, purely intellectual activities will not “stick” and thus will provide little benefit for an infant or toddler. It is largely through activities stimulating her senses and challenging her motor movements, like those she pursues in Romp n’ Roll classes, that the child is able to build the strong foundations and connections she will need to support optimal progress in cognitive development in the future.
In other words, when it comes to educating an infant or toddler, it is critical to realize that it is not a matter of “mind and body.” Almost exclusively during the first two years, and to a still significant extent for the following few as well, the mind IS the body.