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Psychological Science
2019 Project Proposal

Developmental Movement For Infants and Caregivers

Carolyn Palmer (Psychological Science)

The focus of this research is on procedures that help parents and childcare providers sense and move themselves, and using these procedures to work with infants and toddlers.

A first component of the project involves activities supporting infant rolling, sitting, and crawling. Health providers emphasize the importance of placing infants on their backs to sleep for safety, but also on their tummies while awake to facilitate motor development. Infants typically protest this “tummy time” and parents often don’t know how to help. In my prior research with parents and young infants, a single movement lesson resulted in infants tolerating significantly more tummy time in the following week. The current project builds on this work by assessing how parents and infants experience a series of lessons expanding from tummy time into sitting and crawling.

A second component of the project involves developmentally-organized lessons for adults (e.g., parents, early childcare providers, and campus peers). Lessons parallel developments from birth through upright locomotion, and recruit participant feedback on experience of the sequence. For parents and childcare providers, we additionally seek feedback on how they translate their experience into connections with infants and toddlers in their care.

Prerequisites:
A research methods course is useful but not required. 

The student collaborates with me in every phase of the research, from research design through implementation, analysis, writing, and professional communication. The student will also have first-hand experience with movement lessons so that they know what we're teaching in the parent/infant lessons, and they will assist in the lessons offered to adults. This project may also involve communicating with health care and education professionals (e.g., pediatricians, nurse practitioners, early intervention specialists, childcare providers, movement teachers). We will make a particular effort to recruit families in the city of Poughkeepsie, special needs children, and caregivers working with special needs children.

It is very useful to explain in the application what the student's particular interest in the research is, and details about the student's experience with infants, young children, and special needs education. Also, the student could share their training in movement from disciplines including yoga, martial arts, athletics, dance, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, and other practices.

How should students express interest in this project?
A student interested in this project as their first choice can contact me by email (capalmer@vassar.edu) for a meeting; this meeting might be in a group setting.