What is imitation? Cognitive development is the process through which the brain takes in "information to make meaning" which is something that our brains do naturally. The way baby's brain make meaning is through experience, which is made up mostly of interaction with the important people in his life. This means that learning is social, and for babies, involves imitating the people around them. Imitation provides the children with the opportunity to practice and master new skills. In addition, imitation also serve a basis for the development of empathy, or the ability to experience what another person is feeling.
Based on the previous research that has been conducted by Andrew and Meltzoff (1999) shows that imitation is an avenue by which children come to understand their parents. Infants are born to learn, and they learn at first by imitation their parents. Imitation is such an far-reaching aspect of early development and it is not just a behavior, but a means for learning who we are.
Even at a very young age, children imitates their parent's behavior. Parent behavior presents powerful lessons to a child and leaves impressions on the developing mind. Children store in their mind both positive and negative images that may be imitated or tested at a later time.
For 1-year-old, imitation follows a four-step processes include watching and listening, processing the information, attempting to copy a behavior, and practicing. Language development offers an example. When 1-year-old form simple words like baba, they're really imitating the sounds they hear around them. Over time, after countless repetitions, they process this information. "Toddlers start to narrow down the sounds to ones that make sense, like Mama for Mommy," Dr. Klein says. Then they keep practicing until they can use the word in context.
What parents can do? Parents can give a good example and become children's idol by showing a good deeds to their children. For example, make a good sound from mouth and our children will imitate us. Moreover, we can sing songs with our child. A tambourine, piano, guitar, drum and xylophone are fun for older baby to try. Furthermore, parents also can tap a table or clap our hands and see our baby is copying us.
Besides, parents also can teach on how to clean the house to their older children by doing physical activities such as mopping the floor, clean up the fan, sweeping the floor, washing the clothes, setting the tables, and putting away toys . On the other hand, babies between 12-36 months learn by doing, not just watching. Thus, we can show them on how to complete the simple tasks such as putting on shoes, holding a spoon, jump, hop, skip and crawl.
In a nutshell, Experts say parent imitation/modeling is essential for kids to develop healthy academic skills. In order to have a child love reading, therefore, we must let her see us reading often at home. If we want a child to value learning, ask questions and learn new skills by ourselves. Model the behavior we want to see in our child and always congratulate and say please and thank you to them for their good deeds. Our child might not say it right away, but she will over time. We are the one who shaping our children.