A toddler's brain is working at incredible speeds to make sense of his surroundings.

Perception & Development in Toddlers

by Angeliki Coconi

A child’s perception of the world is a mysterious thing. As kids are born into the world, they’re expected to pick up and interpret an incredible amount of things in the shortest space of time! By the time your little one is a toddler, he should be picking up the ability to separate and categorize the objects around him, like, “this is a ball, and that is a cup.” He’ll know how to distinguish different letters of the alphabet, and act while knowing what to expect from his actions -- and this is all part of a toddler’s perceptual development.

The Brain's Work

According to Dr. Janine Spencer in her article, “Developing Children’s Perception,” a toddler’s brain is still trying to settle and adjust to the surrounding environment. While the eyes play a big part in a toddler’s perception of things, it’s the brain that processes everything. The brain gives the little one an idea of the difference between a blue sweater and a red sweater, or the difference between a girl and a boy.

Learning For Themselves

As Spencer reports, parents can only play a small part in helping this incredible perception of the world develop. Most of it comes from that natural curiosity that drives kids to learn for themselves. From the moment your little guy is born, he starts this learning process. At just a few months old, a baby will reach out a try to grab an object nearby. Wow, right? This little monkey has the ability to stretch out his hand to the size of an object of his interest! This is the beginning of the development of hand-eye coordination. Twenty years later, it might have advanced to returning a tennis ball travelling at 90mph.

Memorizing Objects

So how advanced is a toddler’s perception of the world? Well, from around 18 months, toddlers will have the incredible ability to store objects in the memory. This means that it progresses from that totally random trial-and-error “what would happen if I threw this plate on the floor?” to something like “this plate smashed the last time I threw it on the floor, so this time I won’t.”

Showing an Interest

Toddlers have developed the impressive ability to purposefully vary what they do, and what actions they perform, because of the curiosity to experience different results. According to the California Department of Education, toddlers develop interests in various objects, as they manually learn -- through touching and grasping -- certain features of all the still-alien objects that make up their worlds. As their motor development develops, so will their ability to draw, solve jigsaw puzzles and dress on their own. At this age, it's most important to keep practicing these skills -- so the more blocking, rolling, drawing and coloring the better!

About the Author

Angeliki Coconi started writing in 1999 with the theater comedy "Loop," produced in Athens. In 2001 she wrote and produced another comedy, "Modern Cinderella." In 2006 she was awarded a Master of Science in literature from the University of Edinburgh. In 2009 Coconi obtained the Postgraduate Certificate in Screenwriting from Napier University of Edinburgh.

Photo Credits

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