As a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project I helped to keep a detailed record of the early experiences of children who eventually exhibited optimal development and achieved outstanding success in their later years. When these children were babies, what activity do you think occupied the greatest part of their waking hours?
You might be surprised to learn that it was what we referred to as “steady staring.” They spent a lot of time just soaking up the world around them with their eyes. Even after they started crawling and could widen their world with active exploration and investigation, they still would take substantial pauses to engage in intense visual absorption of everything and anything they encountered.
It is important for parents to recognize that the many seemingly mundane things we take for granted are new, interesting, exciting, and extremely educational for an infant who is being exposed to it for the first time. And the infant needs more than a few moments to fully examine and appreciate it.
So whether you are at home or at Romp n’ Roll and you start to feel a little frustrated because your baby seems to be just sitting motionless for a while, remember that she is more than likely engaged in steady staring and her mind is going a mile a minute.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.