Foundations of Spatial Orientation

Uses the earliest of two types of cognitive systems for spatial orientation—knowing where you are and how to get around in the world. Foundations includes the earliest of each of the following two types. 

Response Learning: Uses the first self-based system – that is, related to the child’s own position and movements. In Response Learning, notes a pattern of movements that have been associated with a goal, such as looking to the left when in a highchair, because that’s where the food usually comes from. 

Cue Learning: Uses the first external-based systems, based on familiar landmarks in the child’s world. In Cue Learning, the child associates a toy bear with a small chair on which it often sits. 


You may see this:

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Other Examples:

  • In Response Learning, an infant may incorrectly turn to the right, where a toy was previously found, after a caregiver who is holding her turns so that the toy is now on the child's left. 
  • In Cue Learning, a seven-month-old remembers which of two containers holds a ball, even after a minute of doing something else. 

Help your student become a(n) Foundations of Spatial Orientation

Discussions about where things are ("Where's the light?") activate the self-based system, if the child just woke up and sat up and knows which direction the light is from where they are sitting. Discussion of landmarks ("Do you want teddy?") activate the external-based system, if the teddy bear is in a backpack in the same room.

Special Thanks To

Institute of Education Sciences
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant numbers R305K050157, R305A120813, R305A110188, and R305A150243. to the University of Denver. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.