Daily Archives: 2 December 2009

One Child’s Language: at 47 months

Social notes: Her two favorite teachers (and actually best friends) at school are leaving for more gainful employment this month. She’ll miss them, but she is much more willing now to get to know new people. She is still very teacher-oriented, playing the role of teacher at home: directing games and circle time, asking for volunteers so she can do eeny-meeny-miny-moe (often fudging the last bit) to choose one of us.

Physical development: Fine motor skills have also improved. She can spend an hour at a time coloring within the lines, cutting paper with scissors, and writing smaller and neater uppercase and lowercase letters. She may have just finished a physical growth spurt and begun a mental one.

Intellectual notes: One day in the supermarket, Rachel pretended to read a story from the list she was holding. It was about a little boy who went for a walk, crossed the street by himself, got hit by a car, and died, leaving his parents all alone. They propagandize her well at school—she instinctively grabs a hand before crossing a street. But she also spends intervals trying to figure out the meaning of death. Time is another mystery. She knows the days of the week, some months of the year, and a bit about how years are numbered. But she often thinks that her afternoon nap starts a new day, that supper is breakfast and vice versa.

Size and measurements are still vague. We just came back from a weekend trip to the Big Island. She asked whether it was as big as the Soviet Union, asked several times how long a mile is, wanted to plot our course on the map, and monitored our elevation. Numbers are getting easier: she can read up to 99 (often mixing pairs like 25 and 52) and had little trouble singing from 21 bottles of beer on the wall down to zero.

Language notes: One evening as we sat down to dinner, Rachel clasped her hands and recited a complete table grace in Hawaiian. Another evening, she decided she wanted to study sign language and spent about half an hour practicing a few words with Daddy. She is a real language-learner right now. It’s a shame she doesn’t have another language to work on along with English.

She is rapidly expanding her vocabulary, stopping to ask us the meaning of any word she doesn’t know yet. She is on the lookout for familiar words everywhere and asks us to read and explain any public sign that contains a word or two she can recognize or sound out. At school, she has just been introduced to “mystery words” that can’t be sounded out. We encourage her to sound out regular words. She was able to read a note from Mama that said Can I get a hug from you? and she has come up with her own spellings, like jrink water and clowde, wnde, rane, sune day. (WordPerfect’s spellchecker offers the correct choice for some.) She copies whole sentences with all the devotion of a medieval monk reproducing a holy manuscript.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston Public Schools.


Filed under education, family, Hawai'i, language, U.S.