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18 months plus
Serve and return
A vital ingredient in a young child’s growth and learning (and brain development), especially from ages nought to five, is the “serve and return” interactions that they have with their parents, caregivers and the people in their communities. Like the serve and return rally in a good game of tennis, young children naturally reach out for interaction with adults through babbling and imitating facial expressions.
This process helps them develop important language, cognitive, and social skills. If adults do not respond by getting in sync with children and returning these kinds of noises and gestures, the serve and return rally breaks down and the child’s developmental process is interrupted. This has negative implications for later learning.