Saturday, November 16, 2013

Acquisition in Progress


I am a total language nerd.  I come by it naturally...my mother is a linguistics major...I blame credit her.  In college, my minor was in teaching English as a Second Language and I got to take all sorts of fun classes on language acquisition.  If you ever need something spelled out phonetically, I'm your girl!
So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that I am having so much fun with my bunch of kidlets right now.

There is Little Bee, who is two and has just made a major leap in her talking...she'll repeat anything we say and is making her own sentences and starting to share her thoughts.  It is amazing and adorable.  If you haven't heard her say "Google" or sing the "Hip-hip-hippopotamus" song, you really haven't lived.

Then there is our Flower who has just, in the last few weeks, suddenly taken an interest in learning to sound out words.  She knows her letters and sounds and has for ages, but something clicked and now she has been asking me to show her how to sound out words and read little books.  Like most of the girls I have taught, that ah-ha moment came along with the desire to write letters to her friends (or in the case of many of my students, lists of who was invited to their birthday party!)  I know a lot of people find it frustrating, but I could listen to beginner readers forever...hands down one of my favorite things in the world.  Fun fact: Go Dog, Go has 64 pages and contains the word "dog" 59 times.

Next comes our sweet Safe Families child who I will call "Fireman" (his chosen costume for Halloween).  He is in Kindergarten and just learning the names and sounds of letters for the first time. I can almost see the wheels in his head turning as his knowledge expands.  First he started noticing letters on signs and calling them out in the car.  Then he realized that letters stand for sounds in words.  A typical drive in the car sounds something like this: "I see a B!  An M!  A Z!  I see a /s/ letter....snake!  I see a C!  I know a C word..../k/ /k/ CAR!  And /k/ /k/ kangaroo!  And /k/ /k/ Mimi!  And /d/ /d/ dinosaur!  And /d/ /d/ goat!"  We're getting there little by little...but oh how much has has learned in this past month, and how proud he is.  I think the stars aligned when this little guy ended up with us...he has a "brother" with whom to ride the bus, a "sister" who is super excited about letter sounds, another "sister" who is learning her letter names along with him, and a Kindergarten teacher "mom".  There are a lot of rough things in his life that I can't fix, but darned if I can't teach this kid his letters.  That and giving him a glimpse into what life in a loving, stable family looks like makes it all feel worthwhile.

And finally, my sweet Lego, who has mastered the reading thing, is really starting to comprehend what he reads. His favorite past-time is to snuggle up with me while the other kids nap to read chapter books (it's mutual!!).  We just finished James and the Giant Peach and are making our way though Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  The other day we finished on a cliffhanger and he said, "oh Mom, why don't you just leave the book here in my room."  The next day we started to read and he said, "Don't worry Mom...I have a feeling that Charlie will find a golden ticket.  And I have a feeling that it will be the 5th ticket, and it will be in chapter 5.  So don't worry, Mom."

So we've got a lot of language acquisition going on in this house and I love it.  I even love the ten million tiny scraps of paper all over the place that are not just scraps, but "letters" and "lists" and "notes" and "plans."  As good old Chandler Bing would say, could these little treasures of mine BE any more fun?!

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