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Life at two – Learning & exploring with mum

28 months – The importance of attachment for the development of empathy and exploring her transport schema.

Contents of section

  • Out with mum - safety, curiosity and learning
  • At home playing alone - transport schema, practicing empathy
  • Elfer - importance of attachment for development of empathy


  • What does Ava notice when she’s standing in the water?
  • How does mum make Ava’s interest in the shadows into a fun game?
  • What is Ava’s reaction when her animals fall off the table?
  • What are some of Ava’s interests?
  • How does mum help Ava’s learning?
  • Why is it important for Ava to be able to play on her own?
  • What can you say about Ava’s play?
  • How does Ava’s relationship with mum affect the way she’s able to play?
  • What do you think helps Ava to begin to be able to imagine how her toys might feel?

Ava’s mum really encourages her explorations and interests and we see what she learns when they go out for a walk to feed the ducks. Ava’s grow- ing independence means her mum has to strike a balance between the need to keep her safe and letting her go. This is something most of us have to balance throughout our lives – wanting to stay with what we know well and is familiar to us whilst also looking for new opportunities, wanting new experiences, although this may involve uncertainty and can make us nervous.

Back home she plays contentedly on her own. Again this is the result of the secure attachment she has with mum. The concentration she shows in her play can probably be attributed to another schema that she seems to have – a transport schema. Mum and Claire have often seen her transporting objects around in different ways and moving herself on imaginative journeys, or pretending to be a plane or a train.

Another thing we see in this amazing sequence is Ava’s growing ability to empathise. She is very used to having her own feelings understood by her attachment figures so she can try and do the same for her toys.