24 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 39 months

Social notes: Ever since Rachel moved to the bigger kids' room at school, she has assigned herself a new role in life. She always reminds us of what a big girl she is and almost never goes into the little baby routines she was so fond of before the move: "Look how fast Rachel can run." "Look how high Rachel can jump now." In fact, she has changed her role-play at home from Baby to Teacher. She spends a lot of time at home comforting her stuffed animals, showing them things, putting them down on mats for naptime, waking them up again, reading to them, feeding them. She gets the funniest little serious look on her face when she is comforting them for crying. She repeats instructions from school to them, playing the teacher role to the hilt, telling them "This is a table mat activity, not a floor mat activity."

Another way she marks her change in status is by constantly inquiring how she did things or said things when she was a little baby. "How did Rachel swim when Rachel was a little baby?" "How did Rachel talk when Rachel was one year old?" "How did Rachel say blue when Rachel was in China?" Then she will laugh and imitate our imitations of how she used to say things.

Physical development: Rachel is fascinated by writing now, and likes to take a pen or crayon and write messages on paper. She controls her scribble pretty well, doing a good imitation of a doctor's prescription scrawl.

Intellectual notes: The biggest concept Rachel has mastered with her new rite of passage is the progress of time. Yesterday now means the previous day, or at least the other day, not just any time in the past. Tomorrow is also more immediate than it used to be. She knows about relative age and birthdays, knows most of the days of the week and the last four months of the year. She contrasts her life as a baby and her life in China with her present life. In fact, she has a renewed interest in her China past now and asks a lot more questions about her pictures from Chinese preschool.

Her other major fascination right now is numbers and arithmetic. She counts everything and knows the concept of adding one number to another. She will hold up one, two, three, four, or five fingers on each hand and ask "How much is this?" She hasn't memorized the answers yet, but she can figure it out by counting all her fingers. She can count to twenty, but she tends to miss fifteen and sometimes sixteen.

Language notes: Rachel constantly asks "What's that spell?" She has memorized an ABC book from the library that goes "A is for angry anteater, B is for bashful bear, ...." Her favorite road sign is the yellow BUMP sign. In fact, on the buses she often reads the yellow sign on every window "C-A-U-T-I-O-N Bump!" She looks for Chevron, Shell, and Union 76 signs; spells out STOP, WALK, EXIT, and NO PARKING signs; recognizes Safeway, MacDonalds, and Burger King logos; asks about the cover, half-title, title, and contents pages in books. She likes to take a pen and write messages which she translates as "Please take a juice can to school tomorrow" or "Let's meet for breakfast at eight."

Although she still never uses I, me, my in real communication, she will use them perfectly well when she is play-acting with her stuffed animals. And she now asks "How do you do" such and such rather than "How does Rachel do" such and such. But in talking to us, she still has her own special pronouns Deo or Daytoe (for Rachel) and Deo's (for Rachel's).

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

1 comment:

pne said...

She can count to twenty, but she tends to miss fifteen and sometimes sixteen.

My daughter misses fifteen, too.

I wonder whether there's anything special about that number that makes it easily forgettable...