Involve your children from 0 to 6 years old in scientific research

because in science and the future We love science even on weekends, once isn’t a habit: This article was born out of personal experience… On a sunny Saturday morning, the three of us go out with our six-month-old daughter. Head to the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) rue d’Ulm, in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, for a somewhat unusual family activity. One of seven BabyLabs is located in France, where researchers work specializing in the study of cognition in infants and children under 6 years of age.

Volunteer participation requires half an hour

It all started with a letter, received at home, in which the Parisian BabyLab laboratory asked to register our daughter. “We are fortunate to be in partnership with the Civil Registry, which allows us to contact the parents of newborns”, explains Ann-Caroline Vivitt, President of BabyLab. An enviable facility in neighboring countries, where the recruitment of people is more complex. Registration is carried out by e-mail or by return mail, and does not commit to anything. To receive proposals to participate in ongoing studies.

At BabyLab, the actual experience takes place in a large cube isolated from the rest of the room. Credits: Camille Joubert.

A few weeks after enrolling our daughter, we received our first proposal. It is an act of language acquisition that we choose to engage in. Some studies can be done from home, but this is not the case with this one: we need to plan about half an hour on site – in a time period of our choosing – including barely 5 minutes of active experiments with the child.

BABYLAB’s Funny Finds. Does screen time affect your child’s language learning? Does a bilingual child learn faster if the two languages ​​are the same? How to strengthen the language skills of a child with autism disorder? Find answers to all these questions and many more on the Kotoboo website, supported by volunteer researchers who are passionate about language acquisition based on BabyLabs’ scientific discoveries.

chair in front of the screen

In the lab, there are a few monitors mounted above a desk attached to a cube large enough for a few adults to enter. A real piece within a room, it’s decorated with dozens of animal stickers that make it look less than impressive. Inside, with walls covered in black fabric, a simple chair faces a screen to house a parent with their child in their lap.

Inside the BabyLab Experience Room. Credit: Camille Joubert.

With the headphones turned on, so as not to risk affecting their offspring, the parent quietly listens to music while the screen displays figures accompanied by sounds to attract the child’s attention. In front of the computers outside the cabin, the researchers could follow the child’s gaze. “It is considered that when the child looks away after staring at the screen for a moment, it means that he is not interested in what is happening there, and that he has gone around”, explains Anne-Caroline Vivitt. At this moment, the researcher changes what is shown on the screen, and if the child is able to perceive the difference, he will notice a renewed interest. It is this hypothesis that was built An experiment that about 40 different children will have to watch before the results are analyzed. Objective: To understand whether children associate sound and image from a young age.

“There is no screen before the age of three,” the health authorities insist. But let parents rest assured: If this recommendation can be applied when it comes to prolonged and passive exposure (like the TV running in the background at home, for example), the science is more accurate. Small dose monitors can be a learning aid when interacting with adults, so the few minutes needed to study will not have a negative impact on the child.

Outside the isolated experiment room, researchers follow the baby’s gaze thanks to cameras. Credit: Camille Joubert.

If child recruitment is done primarily thanks to letters, researchers at BabyLabs They can also be contacted simply by email, which can be found on their websites (see list below). And as a bonus, in addition to the satisfaction of being useful for scientific research and fond memories, you’ll leave with a nice testimonial in your child’s name and photo!

children in France.

BabyLab at the Ecole Normale Supérieure
BabyLab from Paris City University

Ile de France
NeuroKidsLab’s Gif-Sur-Yvette
BabyLab from the University of Paris Nanterre

Lyon Children’s Laboratory
Grenoble Baby Lab
BabyLab Aix-Marseille University

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