Mar
26
2012

  Toddler Madness?

W's greek alphabet blocks arrived today. Part of me wonders if this is just madness, teaching him alternate alphabets at age three. The other part of me thinks, well, why not?

During my ill-fated attempts to get the kids to nap on the hammock with me (I think I tried 3 days in a row last week, none of which succeeded, so I gave up), I would bring my Kindle to read stories to the boys. M is oblivious, but W seemed to enjoy the stories. I'm too cheap to pay for picture books for the Kindle, so I just have the words, so there's really not much for W to look at. To make up for it, I try to be a little more expressive and make sound effects and stuff since there are no pictures to point at and discuss.

But W seems to like the stories. The past two days he has specifically requested "Kindle stories" and said he didn't want me to read a picture book instead. So I've been reading him Beatrix Potter stories and chapters from Alice in Wonderland. I quiz him from time-to-time, to see if he's able to follow the action, and he is. But what most fascinates me is his grasp of vocabulary.

In the Potter story (I forget which one specifically) it started out stating that eating lettuce had a soporific effect on the baby bunnies. So I explained to W what that meant (soporific means sleep-inducing, so I told him it meant sleepy). Also, the father bunny had to tell a doleful tale to the mother about how he lost all six of her children. So now W knows that doleful means sad. I've asked him every day since then what soporific and doleful mean, and he's dutifully told me correctly. Although he has yet to work them into his own conversations, so I'm not 100% convinced their truly part of his vocabulary yet.

Today Alice trembled, so I made my hand tremble, and got him to attempt to mimic that (very cute; his first attempt was more of a violent shaking than a tremble, but he eventually got there), and explained that people tend to tremble when they were frightened. He immediately asked what Alice was afraid of. I had gone off on the vocabulary tangent before reading the next sentence, which explained what Alice was afraid of. So he could tell what was coming next in the story just from knowing the vocabulary. I found that encouraging, although because I don't spend much time around other children I have no idea if this is just age-appropriate behavior or if he's a particularly clever little boy. I presume it is every mother prerogative to presume her children are particularly clever in the absence of any disproving facts, so I'll go with that. I'm not too smug, since I fear he's NOT precocious with sitting still and paying attention, since I found myself holding him down in church yesterday, one hand clamped down on both his legs to keep him from kicking, the other firmly wrapped around both arms to keep him from flailing as he sat in my lap. I figure everyone just thinks I have some sort of poor autistic child who must be physically managed since he's not socialized properly. So it is my consolation that he seems to be developing a fine vocabulary.

Which brings me to the next bit of madness that I'm considering. If he has no problem learning words like soporific and doleful, why not just knock off all the SAT vocabulary now, so he won't have to learn it all when he's a teenager? His little toddler brain is wired to learn words at this point (and not all that much else, unless it involves construction equipment), so why limit him to just the basics? He's got all the basic vocabulary down already, I think. He seems pretty articulate to me (although his pronunciation needs work), as far as everyday life is concerned at any rate. His understanding of some vocabulary is limited by his experience, so I try to expand on that. For example, I asked him what "conversation" means. He said that's what Daddy and I do at a restaurant. You see how it's correct, but a limited understanding. I tried to explain today that he was correct, but that a conversation can be ANY two or more people talking to each other ANYWHERE. He then rattled off that daddy & mama could have a conversation, or daddy & William, or mama & William. I asked if Max could have a conversation with anyone, and he said no, because he only knows baby talk. So I think he gets it now.