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Foundation: Memory

California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations.
The developing ability to store and later retrieve information about past experiences

8 months

18 months

36 months

At around 8 months of age, children recognize familiar people, objects, and routines in the environment and show awareness that familiar people still exist even when they are no longer physically present.

At around 18 months of age, children remember typical actions of people, the location of objects, and steps of routines.

At around 36 months of age, children anticipate the series of steps in familiar activities, events, or routines; remember characteristics of the environment or people in it; and may briefly describe recent past events or act them out. (24–36 mos.; Seigel 1999, 33)

For example, the child may:

  • Turn toward the front door when hearing the doorbell ring or toward the phone when hearing the phone ring. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 20)

  • Look for the father after he briefly steps out of the child care room during drop-off in the morning. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 20)

For example, the child may:

  • Get a blanket from the doll cradle because that is where baby blankets are usually stored, after the infant care teacher says, “The baby is tired. Where’s her blanket?” (15–18 mos.; Parks 2004, 67)

  • Anticipate and participate in the steps of a nap routine. (18mos.; Fogel 2001, 368)

  • Watch the infant care teacher placing a toy inside one of three pots with lids and reach for the correct lid when the teacher asks where the toy went. (8–18 mos.; Lally and others 1995, 78–79)

  • Continue to search for an object even though it is hidden under something distracting, such as a soft blanket or a crinkly piece of paper.

  • See a photo of a close family member and say his name or hug the photo.

  • Go to the cubby to get his blanket that is inside the diaper bag.

For example, the child may:

  • Communicate, “Big slide” after a trip to neighborhood park. (24–36 mos.; Seigel 1999, 33)

  • Tell a parent, “Today we jumped in the puddles” when picked up from school. (Siegel 1999, 34)

  • Recall an event in the past, such as the time a family member came to school and made a snack. (18–36 mos.; Siegel 1999, 46)

  • Identify which child is absent from school that day by looking around the snack table and figuring out who is missing. (18–36 mos.; Lally and others 1995, 78–79)

  • Act out a trip to the grocery store by getting a cart, putting food in it, and paying for the food. (24 mos.; Bauer and Mandler 1989)

  • Get her pillow out of the cubby, in anticipation of naptime as soon as lunch is finished.

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (4 to 7 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Explore toys with hands and mouth. (3–6 mos.; Parks 2004, 10)

  • Find a rattle hidden under a blanket when only the handle is showing. (4–6 mos.; Parks 2004, 42)

  • Look toward the floor when the bottle falls off table. (Scaled score of 10 for 5:06–5:15 mos.; Bayley 2006, 55; 8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 20; birth–8 mos.; Lally and others 1995, 72)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (9 to 17 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Ask for a parent after morning drop-off. (9–12 mos.; Lerner and Ciervo 2003)

  • Reach in the infant care teacher’s pocket after watching him hide a toy there. (11–13 mos.; Parks 2004, 43)

  • Look or reach inside a container of small toys after seeing the infant care teacher take the toys off the table and put them in the container. (Scaled score of 10 for 8:16–9:15 mos.; Bayley 2006, 57; birth–8 mos.; Lally and others 1995, 78–79)

  • Lift a scarf to search for a toy after seeing the infant care teacher hide it under the scarf. (By 8 mos.; American Academy of Pediatrics 2004, 244; 8 mos.; Kail 1990, 112)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (19 to 35 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Say “meow” when the infant care teacher points to the picture of the cat and asks what the cat says. (12–24 mos.; Siegel 1999, 32)

  • Give another child an object that belongs to her. (12–24 mos.; Siegel 1999, 32)

  • Remember where toys should be put away in the classroom. (21–24 mos.; Parks 2004, 318)

  • Find a hidden toy, even when it is hidden under two or three blankets. (By 24 mos.; American Academy of Pediatrics 2004, 273)

  • Express “mama” when the infant care teacher asks who packed the child’s snack.

Next Foundation: Number Sense

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Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 27, 2015
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