Learning Languages

September 5th, 2007 - Comments Off on Learning Languages

Phonemes–those pesky sounds that make up words. Back in the first grade, when they started teaching us to read, my school used a totally phonetic format. As a result, I didn’t learn to read until the following year when my teacher taught me sight-reading rather than phonics. It seems that my ear can not hear or distinguish the differences between many phonemes. That’s also why I have struggled and struggled to learn foreign languages, despite my love of them. Reading and writing is not a problem (I even picked up written Russian pretty easily). But when it comes to speaking and listening comprehension–ack. German has been the only one I’ve had any luck with, mainly because it’s basically the same sounds as English.

The solution to this problem goes back to early childhood brain development, when all those pathways in the brain are being formed. The more phonemes a child hears, i.e. the more foreign languages the child hears, the better she will be able to hear and speak those sounds in the future. That’s the idea behind Baby Einstein’s Language Nursery, where the baby can listen to poems and songs in Russian, Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, etc. They aren’t expecting the child to learn those languages, merely to have the sounds burned into her aural and oral memory.

So, we’ve started giving the Punkin all sorts of language input. My mother speaks French to her, I can do a bit of German, my husband has a bit of both. But none of us speaks Spanish, which is one language that will be almost essential to have a knowledge of in the future. So I looked around on the Net, and found A la Vibora de la Mar, a Spanish language series for children.

When I bought the DVDs, I thought it was just another language program. It’s not. This is total immersion Spanish, designed for native speakers. Which is wonderful! The Punkin is hearing all those sounds needed to speak the language–properly–down the road, and hearing them in a fun and vibrant format. The songs are catchy. Very, very catchy.

We own three of the four titles–Do Re Mi Nino (music), Los Colores de Rufino (colors), and 123 Cuentame un Cuento (counting). The fourth, Aprendiendo Tempranito, came out this spring, and I only just now was able to find it here. We’ll be getting that ASAP.

The neat thing is, the Punkin is starting to repeat what she hears. Even my old, unstretchy brain cells are picking up words here and there. As there’s not a lick of English in the programs, I had to have a friend make me a transcript of what’s going on. So now I at least know gist of the stories and songs, and since I have the words written down, I can help the Punkin sing along a bit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with early language exposure.

Red Green meets Mr. Mom

August 21st, 2007 - Comments Off on Red Green meets Mr. Mom

Is this baby’s name Art?

Frugal ways to put color on your walls — thanks ~Dawn for the laugh!

Schooling–How Young is Too Young?

August 6th, 2007 - Comments Off on Schooling–How Young is Too Young?

The Punkin is just over 2 1/2 years old, but I’m considering starting “schooling” this fall. This was suggested more as a way of getting some sort of routine into our extremely unscheduled lifestyle. When I spoke with a friend who has a degree in education (early childhood I believe), she seemed to think it was a fine idea, as long as the time spent was limited to short periods, only two days a week.

The Punkin is a little sponge at this point. Sometimes I call her “Johnny Five”–need more input! She seems to be happiest when learning. She already knows her numbers 1-10, her alphabet, and can find the letters on a keyboard (and use a mouse, but let’s not go there). That’s just from watching Baby Einstein and playing with her computer.

I know that now is the time to burn language pathways in her brain, so we are trying to expose her to as much foreign speech as she wants. She can count to 5 in German and Spanish, and is starting to learn her colors in Spanish.

She also takes Creative Movement, which has done wonders for her gross motor skills. She can skip, gallop, hop on one foot, and do bits of ballet (she actually knows how to do a coupé, passé, and arabesque).

I’m thinking “formal” schooling would be more along the lines of time set aside specifically to read to her, or work on word recognition, or hone fine motor skills. Not until much later would this time involve actual “work.”

So, am I trying to be über-mom, and force my daughter to become an infant over-achiever? Or am I being wise and taking advantage of her desire to learn? Where’s the line? How much is too much?

Things I have learned recently

July 27th, 2007 - Comments Off on Things I have learned recently
  1. When using the potty like a big girl, make sure to sit waaaayyy back
  2. Never, ever press on Mama’s foot pedal while she’s sewing
  3. If you punch enough buttons on a computer keyboard, you can make some really cool sounds
  4. If you punch the wrong buttons on a computer keyboard, you can make your parents make some really interesting sounds too
  5. Bees are yellow, Flies are black
  6. Red enamel paint does not wash off very easily

Mama Painting

July 21st, 2007 - Comments Off on Mama Painting

Almost all done! Mama got all the trees and plants and stuff done today. She says she’ll do the animals later.




I love my room. Wouldn’t you?

the Punkin