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Entries about development

The Amazing Brain of a Two Year Old

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I am watching my almost two year old with awe. He is putting magnetic letters on the refrigerator as he names each one in turn: R, M, Q, D. We just bought these magnets last week to encourage his rising fascination with letters and numbers. He has spent a little over a month reading books, looking at cards, pointing at signs, absolutely enthralled with LETTERS. We will be at the beach, and he will run over to the sign that says, "PLEASE KOKUA KEEP OUR BEACH CLEAN" and point to each letter. He asks, Momma? I tell him each letter, again and again until he is satisfied he comprehends.

I am not entirely sure how extraordinary this is, but to me, it is possibly the most extraordinary thing I have ever witnessed, watching an individual gain a grasp of a language. I knew he was interested in letters, and I knew he was starting to get some of them and recognize the patterns, but I tested the extent of his knowledge last week. I asked him, where is the B? He points right to it. Hmm, that may have been a lucky guess. Where is the Z? Points right again. And makes the sign for Z. OK, how about N? Points. N, he says. I went through each letter of the alphabet, and he did not make a single error. He recognizes them all.
By this week, not only does he understand them, he can say all but 4 of the letters, and he can sign all of them in ASL (American sign language)
People stop me and ask me, did you do that program, your baby can read? no, I tell them, I didn't do anything special. This is all him. This is his self-directed learning. In fact, I wish he wouldn't push himself so hard. I don't entirely understand this desire he has to know, know, conquer.

I wish I had read more books about childhood development. I wish I had more of a concept of how their brains soak up information and integrate it into their awareness. I know my son has a somewhat one-track mind when it comes to learning. If he has an interest, he will focus on something until he gets it. Already at 22 months, he can count and sign to ten, say and sign his letters, and is starting to read and recognize words. I do not know how this kid does it, or even what to do to encourage it. He does it on his own, I just follow along. I bought him an etch-a-sketch for a plane trip in February. While trying to come up with a game, I started drawing things, like a square, or a letter, and he would name it. Now, he wants to do this game everyday.

His language skills are exponentially growing each week,and I find it difficult to keep up with his growth, but find it so incredibly inspiring and miraculous, how much he is able now to communicate and how much more he can understand. It somewhat parallels my experience with the German language. I studied German for 10 years, throughout high school and majoring in college. I studied abroad in Vienna Austria and gained a confidence with the language and my ability to communicate. I was like a child with the language, not getting deeper concepts, but able to get my point across with growing ease. Now that the past 10-15 years I have only had fleeting yearly visits to Europe and short conversations with people in German, my ability to speak has declined markedly. When people hear me speak, they do not guess that I am fluent. Yet, I still understand almost every word, and definitely can understand a movie or a conversation in German. I use this to understand that although my son cannot always tell me things, he knows far more than I am aware he knows. When I take time to test that knowledge, each time, I am shocked that he knows it all. If I ask him to bring me the letter H, he does. If I ask him to pick out 3 books, he does. Ask him to choose an outfit to wear, and he emerges from his room with a shirt and shorts. Wow. When we take the time to really think about what is happening with a toddler, and appreciate what they are doing everyday, there is no doubt in my mind that all of my time spent with him is the most important part of my day.

Posted by globalmomma 02:41 Archived in USA Tagged language development toddler brain intelligence learning growth fluent Comments (1)

Cause and Effect

This morning at 5:45am I heard a little voice calling, "Momma, momma". He was awake and ready to get up. I lie still and listen again to the urgency, momma, momma. I climb out of bed and over to his crib, and he is more emphatic now: MOMMA, UPPA!

I bend down and he he wants to show me something: he is touching both of his pointer fingers together in an arc. Perhaps I should not be amazed by this, but to me, it is as if he has shown me the architectural plans to the Eiffel tower. At 17 months, he has truly baffling hand-eye coordination. I can tell he's pleased by his latest discovery as well. We have been practicing baby signs with him since he was about 4 months old. At first, it was really more of an intellectual experiment for me. But when a month later, he was signing 'milk' and meaning it, I was hooked. For the first five months or so, milk was his only sign, possibly because it was really the most important word in his world. Then he began signing other words we had been learning: more, all done, bye-bye, ball, flower, thank you. It definitely helps him communicate what he sees, and what he wants. But more than that, I think it has helped develop a real awareness of his hands and different movements he can make, and enhanced his dexterity. He watched these videos called "Baby Signing Time", and he watches them intently...he just loves them. A friend recommended them to me, and I also think they have been one of the best investments in baby entertainment I could buy. I find myself humming the tune to the songs, remembering the simple signs, and actually, it is one of few baby/toddler videos I can stand to watch.

So this morning, I lift my son out of his crib and he takes off running toward the kitchen where he knows his favorite toys, duplo legos, are ready for him. Each night I set them up differently so when he wakes up, he can pull all of the pieces apart, one by one. He is in a phase of complete obsession over how things work: open, close; up, down; apart, together; in, out; off, on. There are not many traditional toys that fit this model, so he plays with the legos, but mostly his playthings are doors, levers, switches, buttons on phones & ipads, knobs on appliances. Cause and effect. Every action has a reaction. He runs around opening and then slamming doors. Opening the dishwasher, pressing all of the buttons, turning things off and on. Unscrewing his bottle or food tops, then putting the lids back on. It is funny to watch but also can be challenging when he is turning the stove knob from high to low, while you are trying to boil water. Or when he opens a food jar and it spills all over the floor. Or when he presses the little button and locks the bathroom door like he did yesterday. My husband had to take pliers to a wire and open the door again. Five minutes later, it was locked again. At least he hasn't yet figured out how to unlock the front door, because he reaches up as high as his little toes can lift him and pulls down on the handle of the front door. Outside. Luckily, there are a few handles and knobs still out of reach.

Posted by globalmomma 00:21 Archived in USA Tagged hawaii development toddler infant growth parenthood Comments (0)

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