Written by Katrina Hitchman (PhD '09)
As a mother with two young boys, I am always looking for fun activities that we can do together. If we can get out of the house, or even go for a little drive, it’s a bonus. Throw in a learning experience at the Infant Studies Group labs and a new book – for free! – and we’ll be there.
When my firstborn was a baby, I used to take him to the Ontario Early Years Centre once or twice a week for “Music and Movement” classes. We sang lots of interactive songs, met other babies and parents, and learned about other local resources and activities for kids. (I highly recommend the Early Years Centre, especially for first time parents.)
One afternoon, during a baby fair at the Early Years Centre, I met two researchers from the University of Waterloo’s Infant Studies Group. They were looking for volunteers to participate in research on infant development and language.
During my masters and Ph.D. at University of Waterloo, my office had been right across the hall from one of the Infant Studies Group rooms. I was also familiar with psychology studies using human participants, and understood how hard it can be to recruit enough participants to run a successful study. Plus, it was a reason to get out of the house and for my son to experience a new activity. And, my kid would be contributing to science, while he was still a baby – a pretty neat idea. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I signed my son up.
Since that day, my two children have each participated in several studies at the Infant Studies Group labs. The researchers are friendly and clearly enjoy interacting with the kids. My boys love playing with the toys in the lab, and running down the long hallways of the psychology building… not usually part of the plan. The studies themselves involve watching a video or short presentation, all while sitting next to me or on my lap. At the end, they get to pick out a new t-shirt or book to take home.
I would definitely encourage anyone with small kids to get involved in Infant Studies Group research and contribute to our collective knowledge about children’s language development. Your kids will enjoy the experience, and your family’s bookshelf will grow.