Friday, March 9, 2012

The Power of Nothing

As you probably know, I am a talker, and I consider it my duty as an engaged mom to constantly fire-hose my kid with enriching vocabulary and well-enunciated language expansion. But what if we stopped yammering at the kid for a little while?

Last night Andrew proposed an experiment: Let's follow the practices of the (slightly wackadoodle but intriguing) RIE people, and just quietly observe our child from a distance, without interfering and without saying anything. Husband is much better at not engaging than I am--the metaphorical buzzer rang on me a couple times when I was all, "Not on the wedding quilt!" and I couldn't not sign (come on, it's silent!), but overall, we did well, and it was so interesting. We didn't say anything or suggest anything, and we didn't do anything other than follow the kid's directly expressed orders: "Stamps down...Open dis."

Jackson happily entertained himself with little or not assistance from us for well over an hour, and we got a terribly interesting and surprising perspective on our kid. Just listening to his unabridged inner monologue is hilarious. He edits himself with "No" when he knows he's not supposed to do something or that something is wrong, and he's just hilariously happy when he finds a mirror: "Jackson. Hello, hello, hello, Jackson."

Anyway, the highlight that relates to topic of this blog came  when he brought us a copy of Go Dog Go, and said, "Read Dog Go." Andrew mouthed to me, "Let him read it to you." So we let him read Go Dog Go to us, and it was a thrill.

He opened the book and pointed at the"Dog," and said "Dog,"and then he turned the page and pointed at the words "Little dog," and said, "Little dog," and then I pointed at "Big dog," and he said "Big dog." Now, he was by no means reading, but he was associating illustrations and familiar concepts with print. Next he flipped to one of the pages where that poor needy girl dog is always begging for approval asking, "Do you like my hat?" and he pointed at the words "Hello. Hello." and said, "Hello, hello." On the page where the dogs are in the boat at night, he muttered to himself and said, "Night. Dogs. Night." He's not sounding out words, and I don't even think he's necessarily even doing simple sight words, but he does know that certain words happen in a certain order, and that words have a connection to print!

On a related note, we were on a walk recently, and there was a city council candidate's lawn sign for an upcoming municipal election. He walked up to the sign and first announced, "No parking!" (He thinks all signs say "No parking.") And then when I told him that sign said something else, I saw him run his finger under the words and start muttering a bunch of letter sounds to himself. I'm pretty sure that the letter sounds in question had little or nothing to do with the actual words, but he was imitating his buddy Tad from Leap Frog's Talking Words Factory and making sounds in association with letters.


Anyway, the kiddo is in a really fun phase, and we are definitely going to shut the heck up and let him do the talking (and the reading) again soon.

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