See your toddler playing with the phone and pretending to make a call? He is drawing upon his memory of you using the phone, has associated the phone with the action of making a call, and is now mimicking the correct use for it. Brilliant!
Whether he is performing simple actions, learning new words, or interacting with other people, your child is drawing upon his powers of Memory, Association and Mimicry to learn and survive in the world he finds himself in. And as these functions continue to improve, they contribute to the growth of what we know as intelligence, or the ability to learn facts and skills and to effectively use them.
This is where your child stores every bit of data he will ever encounter in his life. From information brought by his senses, to experiences, ideas and dreams, everything is filed away here. Greater than any computer, a young child’s brain can store a million million times more individual memories than the number of atoms in the known universe!
Association is how your toddler connects and sorts out all the information stored in his memory. It also provides a context to help him understand data on anything new he encounters. Through association, he can grasp the meaning of words, identify people and objects, and recognize sources of pleasure and pain.
Mimicry / Imitation
This ability to imitate what he sees is one of the most important learning and survival tools your child has. Even at an early age, he is already one of the world’s great imitators, able to copy virtually anything: words, gestures, people, animals and even objects! By imitating a specific action, your toddler is gaining personal experience of it, and can then add it to his growing collection of skills!
Nurture your child’s mental skills!
Like all physical skills, your child’s mental skills can be grown and strengthened through use. Here are a few tips on sharpening your toddler’s mind:
Associating new objects and concepts with things he is familiar with will help him grasp them more quickly.
Repetition is a very effective learning tool. Remember reciting the ABC’s as a child? Anything can be remembered if repeated enough times.
Children are attracted to things that stand out or entertain. Make something appear unique or attractive and he won’t forget it.
Nursery rhymes and songs are ideal tools to help a child learn the foundations of language. Repeating a rhyme or jingle makes the words familiar, while exercising a child’s memory and speech. A great way to learn while having fun!
Provide opportunities for him to try as many different experiences as possible. This creates a larger pool of memories he can draw associations from to help his mind grasp even more concepts!
Natural imitators, children learn by observing, memorizing, and then doing for themselves. If you want to teach your child something, demonstrate it so he can see how it is done, explaining each step in terms he can associate with.
Play memory games with your child. Ask him to think of, or remember, people, places, events or objects he has encountered in the past. You can give a helpful hint by forming an association with something he is not likely to forget. A question like “Remember Uncle Bob?” might not get a response, but “Remember Uncle Bob, who gave you the toy train?” would probably earn a happy nod!