(A friend of mine asked me some questions about Liz’s language development last year, when Liz had just turned three. This is what I wrote back. –Mom)
I have been reinforcing language with Liz ever since she was a baby. I knew it would be frustrating to deal with a baby who couldn’t articulate what she wanted, so I consciously decided that she needs to learn language ASAP.
I started talking to her once I got enough sleep to string together a coherent sentence. When she was three months old, I went back to work. I worked overnight, and would get home as she was waking up. I’d talk to her as I was feeding her: “Hi, Miss Elizabeth! Did you have a good night? Did you sleep? I hope so! I worked all night. I told the ambulances where to go. My friend was nice to me, she gave me a hug! I know YOU like hugs, you’re a snuggly baby.” …and so on.
We’ve been reading to Liz since the day she was born. I remember Dad reading Dr. Seuss books to Liz in the hospital. When one of us was up with her during the day, and she was in the mood to be awake but we were in the mood to read our own books or magazines, we’d read aloud to her from those. She’s heard bits and pieces of the Harry Potter series, a little bit of Noam Chomsky, and a few articles about swimsuit shopping and makeup (don’t judge!).
I’ve always pointed things out to Liz. I’m sure I looked silly walking through the grocery store, pushing a cart with a car seat in it, talking about yummy green broccoli and big, heavy jugs of milk. I talked to her in a high, animated tone of voice, but didn’t dumb down any of the words I used.
I am SO glad that Liz can pronounce most words now. When she was about 18 months old, we were watching a DVD. She kept saying, “Mushum. Mushum.” I told her I didn’t understand her. She started pointing at the TV. “Mushum! Muh shum!” I still didn’t get it. She stomped up to the TV and started yelling at it and making the sign for “more”. “MUH SHUM! WANT SHUM! SHUM!” Finally, I realized that Barney was on, and she was telling me that she’d rather watch Fireman Sam again.
She used to call every black cat a “Billie” and every tabby cat a “Moe,” after the black cat and the tabby cat at home.
Since she’s been going to daycare, she’s been picking up all kinds of new stuff. She calls her pacifier a “binky” because that’s what her friend L calls it. She used to call her Crocs “clogs” because that’s what Grandma M taught her, but since she’s been going to daycare, they’re “Crocs.”
She went for a walk with Twin Bro around Christmas (she was about 2 1/2). Twin Bro lives in a neighborhood with old houses, some of which have lions out front. Some of the lions had bows on them for Christmas. Liz called the plain lions “lions,” but the ones with bows were “Christmas dogs.” She told Twin Bro, “Santa comes and brings us presents. The presents has bows on them…just like little dogs has!”
Now she’s learning grammar, and is in that stage where she knows the rules, but not the exceptions. So she’ll say things like “runned” or “swimmed” instead of “ran” or “swam.” She’ll tell me, “I want to go to home” (or “I want to go to [our address]” if she thinks she needs to emphasize), or “I want to stay at here.”
She’s also learning expressions. The other night, she told Dad, “I shouldn’t worry about taking a bath tonight.”