Friday, April 9, 2010

Learning Her Native Language

I'm so fascinated with how my daughter is learning language. As a person who loves languages and words, seeing how a child's language develops first hand is really eye opening to me. I remember when I lived in Italy and spoke italian almost fluently, I was get so mad at myself when I mixed up pronouns or tenses. But watching my child go through those same things, I'm realizing that it is a natural part of learning any language.

We don't expect children to get even their native language correct from the get go. We know that they will say some words wrong, misuse phrases, mix up pronouns and verb tenses, and generally not understand some things that we usually take for granted. We generally aren't unreasonable in our expectations of children. We correct them or let it go when they don't say things right. It takes years and years and YEARS for them to learn their native language fluently, with higher and higher levels of vocabularly and grammar rules and goodness knows what else!

We tell them to "use their words" when they are frustrated/mad/sad, and it's up to us to teach them those words. Teaching them the words for their emotions, their needs and their wants not only helps us understand them and cuts down on their tantrums, but it also allows them to begin to understand their emotions, needs and wants. If you have a "spirited" child like I do, the book Raising Your Spirited Child has really helped me come up with phrases and ways to say things that I am teaching my daughter so that she will understand herself and be able to help other people understand her.

Recently, we've been working on helping her learn how to go to sleep by herself. It's a long process (no Baby Sleep Boot Camp for this child!), and I will post about my methods soon. Part of my strategy is teaching her the words she needs to know to understand what is going on and what she needs to learn. In the last few nights, I've heard her tell me the following:
-I'm having trouble going to sleep.
-It's hard [to go to sleep].
-I'm going to lay down and try to sleep. (I'm still working on lay versus lie with her)
-I just need to cuddle a little in your lap. (She gets back in bed after I cuddle with her a little.)
-I'm ready for you to go now. (She wasn't, but it was still good to hear the words.)

I believe it is because I'm teaching her the words that truly reflect what's going on that I'm hearing less of the follow at bedtime:
-There's a shark in the anchor (pointed to the cords of the window). It's going to eat me!
-I'm scared to lay down.
-Nooooo! Lay down with me!
-Go away! (and a second later) Don't leave!

And apparently, I'm also teaching her how to say some things simply because I say them all the time. These include:
-Hey--as in, "Hey, everybody!", "Hey, that's not right!", and "Hey! Hey! Hey!" (to get attention).
-Cannot--as in, "No, you cannot do that." I'd heard Londo say to her, "Embrace the use of the contraction," and I couldn't figure out why she was always using cannot instead of can't. Until I heard myself tell her, "No, you cannot do that!" one day. Aha!
-Actually--as in, "Actually, it does fit you." Actually, I have realized I use this word a ton. Actually, it's really cute when she says it, too. Actually, I have no plans to stop saying it.
-Oh my gosh--as in, "Oh my gosh! Those are so cute!" which she said about the clothes I picked out for her this morning, even though she "actually" didn't want to wear the shirt I had picked out. She has always loved to make the surprised face and sound, and now she's added oh my gosh.

But some cute phrases she has either picked up somewhere else or developed on her own. My favorite one lately is:
-By my own. As in, she came up with that one by her own. Not on her own or by herself. She wants to do things by her own. And I love it!

All my observations about how her speech and language develops is making me want to re-learn italian or maybe even another language too. I think I will feel less inhibited about speaking now that I realize that making mistakes and not speaking perfectly is a natural part of learning a language. And maybe I'll come up with some cute little phrases in italian all by my own!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Question of the Week - Adventuring

It's spring time, and that's when I want to start getting out and doing things. Having adventures, taking trips, doing stuff. Historically, I simply can't do much in the winter, and I don't even really want to. But when the spring rolls around, I feel like I've been hibernating for months and it's time to get out and do things! Maybe it will change after a few years of medicating correctly, but because I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I tend to feel like I have only half a year to do everything I want to do. So mentally, physically and emotionally, I want to DO EVERYTHING from about April on.

However, poor Londo is usually pretty exhausted by the spring time, since he does so much in the winter. I tend to plan too much and want him to be included too soon. So I'm working on not planning things for him until he is ready.

But that's not going to stop me from going on my own adventures, both with and without the kids!

The question of the week is what adventure(s) have you been on recently or are planning to go on soon?

This weekend was a very busy weekend, and I was so happy to be doing all sorts of stuff. My big adventure this weekend was going down into DC to see the cherry blossoms with the Pumpkin, a friend of the Pumpkin's and the friend's mom (my new friend). When we met at the Metro station, we looked at the crazy long lines just to buy Metro cards and then looked at each other like, "Woah!" But I said to my friend, "It's going to be very crowded. There are going to be long lines. We are going to have to wait a lot. But we'll have fun!"

And we did. I brought a stroller and my friend brought a wagon with two seats facing each other. The girls spent a lot of time sitting in the wagon and playing together (while we used the stroller for the bags). My friend and I got to chat about everything, which made lines and waiting easier. We brought snacks, drinks and stickers. We let the girls run around the grassy area by the Washington Monument, where they met a boy about a year older and joined him in kicking the soccer ball around. We walked all around the tidal basin, through the busy, crowded streets and sidewalks. We searched all over for a Metro station to get back. We made our way all around and back out with no plan, no real schedule and no major worries.

It was wonderful! I had a fun adventure with my daughter and our friends! We were spontaneous! We winged it! I can't wait to do something like that again... but not next weekend. I promised Londo I would not plan anything next weekend so we can do spring cleaning. But soon after, we are going to plan a camping trip, and we go to the beach the first week of June! Adventure and excitement, new and different things to do for the whole family! I can hardly wait!

What about you? Have you been on any adventures recently? Are you going anywhere good soon? Are you bring the kiddos and partners on your adventures? What do you dream of doing that you would consider adventurous?