In another part of my life, I do research in second language acquisition (how adults learn foreign language); a cross between linguistics and cognitive psychology. My research is on adults, but when Katherine was younger (before her sisters arrived and I had only one nap schedule to coordinate) I signed her up to participate in linguistic and psychology experiments on campus. These experiments were always interesting for me and fun for Katherine. I enjoyed learning about the research design, how experiments are carried out with children, how children's behavior is observed, and of course, the results when the studies are published. Katherine enjoyed the puppets and simple stories designed to present and elicit the target language or behavior of the study.
A friend of mine recently started a blog, My First Theory, that outlines simple experiments you can conduct at home to observe your child's development:
There are a lot of books that tell you how children develop. But, through this blog, I want to show you, in a way that you can re-create at home, some of the most interesting studies that researchers have designed to illuminate how children are learning. During my time as a graduate student in developmental psychology, I marveled both at the kinds of skills that young children were learning and the innovative, yet elegant ways that many researchers were testing them. Since then, I’ve thought about compiling these studies chronologically so that I could use them to learn about my own future children’s development. In talking with the parents who generously volunteered to bring their children into campus labs to participate in research, I found that many parents are interested in learning about these studies as well, but may not be familiar with them.
If you are intrigued, head on over to My First Theory and check out some of the experiments. And have fun!