Baby C is now 16 months old and it’s amazing how her language has developed. I make it a point to talk as much as I can (that’s not hard :P) and to describe what I’m doing as I’m doing it. “I’m washing the dishes. Let’s get your shoes. Where is the blanket?” Last week, I was ecstatic to hear her say (very close to her bedtime), “Night night. Up. Bye bye!” I was thrilled to hear her express what she wanted and in sequence. The family was giddy too (but no one as much as I). When she waved to her sisters and walked into my arms, Baby C looked extremely proud of herself. That was probably the longest sequence she had spoken thus far and she was clear and concise about her feelings. Her usual comments are one to two words such as “all done,” “more milk,” and “this book.”
As with her two older sisters, I didn’t engage in much “baby talk.” My voice goes sing-songy and I do my share of nursery rhymes, but I avoid the whole “you widdle nose is so cutie poo” sort of talk (oddly enough, the older girls and I make up tons of nonsense words nowadays). I spoke to my girls like regular people and used repetition, emphasis, and engagement. We attended free library classes since all the girls were four months old and Baby C enjoys books much like her sisters did. I made it a commitment to go at least three times a week. She understands simple commands like “Get your shoes,” and “Sit down.” I didn’t want to regret that I didn’t do enough to help my child develop her language when I had the chance. What else is maternity leave for anyway if not to bond with your child and to engage as much as possible? After all, there are only so many mall-walks and coffee meet-ups one day can do. 🙂
It’s too early to tell how Baby C’s language skills will be, but I think she’s on the right track. I remember my eldest knew her alphabet at 18 months and was reading simple books by age three. We knew that she was an anomaly and was happy with her love of reading and writing, but we also knew not to expect the same of every child. By Senior Kindergarten, she was already reading at a Grade Two level and enjoyed extra worksheets at home. Our middle child took a bit longer to get into it, but again, after a year of school, she was already quite advanced and reading many DRA levels ahead of her classmates. She loves to read to Baby C and it melts my heart watching her play “Teacher” with her little sister.
Early literacy begins at home and I’m a huge advocate for making it a family affair. Go to library classes together. Attend programs at Early Years Centres. Read books in bed. Sing songs. Play with letter blocks. Do anything to get your baby started on the right path. I’m still a strong believer that the first five years of a child’s life are HUGE. Their brains are developing at amazing rates and connections are made. I just want to be the bridge that helps with those links.