Put a Bib on It

Talking or Teaching? Both!

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Elli learningOne of the (many) great things about working at an organization focused on early childhood education when you’re a young parent is that you’re literally surrounded by child development experts. I have the chance to ask questions around the lunch table about my daughter’s development and get input from other parents—who also happen to have master’s degrees in this exact field. It’s a pretty lucky place to be.

The other day, I was talking about my daughter’s ever-expanding vocabulary, which fascinates both my husband and me. It seems like Elliot says new words every day and her ability to “connect the dots” is the most interesting to watch.

We haven’t taught her where her nose is, or to show us her feet or touch her hair. But those are all things that she knows the answer to. It you ask her where her feet are, she’ll sit down and try to lift them both in the air to show you—it’s adorable.

As I was sharing this story and my amazement that she knew these things, one of my early childhood colleagues gently said, “Tara. You did teach her that. You taught her that by talking to her everyday and telling her what you’re doing while you do it. When you tell her that you are brushing her hair, you help her learn where her hair is.”

Whoa. We talk to Elliot all the time and I knew it was what we were supposed to be doing. I knew it would ultimately help her language development, and we even use “grown-up words” when we talk to her to help her learn. I really didn’t realize how much she was picking up while we were doing that, though.

I saw it again this morning when I looked out the window and said, “Elliot—look outside. It’s raining today.” She held her hand out like an adult does when they are trying to see if it’s raining or not. “What is she doing?” my husband asked, and I had to laugh. She’s testing for rain—because every morning before we get in the car, we walk out onto the driveway and talk about if it’s warm or cold today, and if it’s raining, I always stick my hand out to show her that it is.

As parents, especially of young children, we don’t always get to see the immediate impact of our parenting actions. In this instance, however, I can see it clearly and it’s amazing.

And it’s probably time to start paying close attention to what we’re saying and doing around her, or my guess is that our little parrot will soon be repeating something we don’t want her to repeat—and probably in front of her grandparents!

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