Recently, more than ever I’m grateful. I’m incredibly grateful for the gift of language that I’ve been given. Not only have I been able to make a career out of it, as an English teacher, writer and blogger; but I know that my ability with words is starting to benefit my children.
All parents have a different unique skill, talent or awareness that they are lucky enough to be able to share with their kids; for some parents, it might be a love of sport, art or travel. Or it might be playing a musical instrument or working with animals. For me, well, words have always been important to me - I use them in my writing all the time, of course, and my husband says I speak more than my share of them during the course of a day!
I’m noticing at the moment that both my little ones are at really interesting phases with their language and literacy development. My daughter, who is P1, is starting not only to spontaneously recognise and read high frequency words in our picture books, but she is also reading and writing some basic sentences - all with the excitement and enthusiasm that comes along with being a curious learner. When we are reading a bed time story, she will suddenly point out a word here and there, and her little voice gets so excited and she sounds so pleased with herself that I almost well up with pride. It feels like the gateway to knowledge, learning, history and the wide world itself is starting to open for her – and I can’t wait to help her through it.
My son is developing at his own pace, too. For a while, I felt that he wasn’t grasping vocabulary as quickly as she did at his age, but it seems all of a sudden that he has swallowed a dictionary (I wouldn’t be surprised, he is an eating machine). But he seems to have graduated from individual words to full sentences very quickly, and is interacting in the most interesting and sometimes extremely funny manner. I’m almost sad this phase is nearly over, because it is so exciting to hear his gorgeous, cute voice trying out new words all the time – he repeats them diligently, wanting to soak up all the new words that he can manage. What’s also gorgeous is that he speaks about himself in the third person – now that couldn’t be cuter, could it?
I also feel grateful for the fact that, today, we live in a world surrounded by technology and devices. I know they get bad press at times, and I understand the reasons why they do; however, it is the fact that I can make a video to share with family (or even to show the kids when they are older) of themselves speaking, singing or interacting as a toddler or young child, and to be able to keep that forever, treasure the timbre of their young voices, revisit the cute childhood lisp that they have and remind myself of just how excited they were to learn about language and communication. After all, it unlocks the world of opportunities for all of us and should never be underestimated.
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Emma Kelly is a Belfast-based mum of two little ones, an English teacher by trade and a blogger at Amelia's Mum. Life is currently a happy juggle of nappies, toddler fun, constant dieting and the (more than) occasional glass of wine!