A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about language

The Amazing Brain of a Two Year Old

semi-overcast 81 °F

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)

The World of a Toddler

Our son is now 20 months old, and he can sign more words than I can. His current list is: milk, juice, pear, apple, good, bird, dog, chicken, sheep, cloud, rain, snow, sleep, eat, help, music, outside, clean, wash hands, all done, more, yes, no, thank you, please, cold, hot, car, boat, bus... and those are just off the top of my head, I am sure the list goes on. He recognizes at least 3x that many signs. This baby sign language thing was definitely one thing I did right - it is amazing! And I believe it really helps our son to feel more independent and to feel understood. He looks so pleased when he can get his point across with signs and words. And it leads to a lot less frustration. He is starting to get frustrated when he cannot figure out a toy or get something to work, or if he cannot communicate what he wants. It's tough - you can't help but feel for toddlers trying to express themselves. They understand so much, yet no one understands them. They can't express what they feel. The sign language helps. The whining and protests of frustration are difficult. But every little piece they get, it is exciting to watch them put it all together and develop an awareness of the world and the things they see and feel. I am glad to have the time to really be here and watch this whole world in him develop.

www.signingtime.com (and no, I am not paid for this promotional)

And excuse my holiday hiatus please. I am now officially back in my island home, and back in the writing groove. Expect more of the regular almost daily blog posts. ;0

Posted by globalmomma 14:26 Archived in USA Tagged sign language communication signing todler Comments (1)

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