I was watching an 18-month-old playing in the lobby. She was trying to take her jacket off, then on, then trying to zip, unzip, repeat…for about 10 minutes. She did not get frustrated by this game; instead, she was loving it! It reminded me of something we as adults so often forget: the firsts. Children are experiencing life around us – for the first time – and it is miraculous. To them, it is not an inconvenient rainstorm, it is water falling from the sky! It feels wet. It changes how hair feels, how clothes feel. We use these things that start small, then open big and we hold them over our heads to keep us dry. This thing then closes again into something small. Amazing.
I remember walking outside with my one-year-old when she spotted a, well, a spot on the driveway. She curiously squatted down and tried to pick it up. When she couldn’t (it was just a discoloration), she ran her fingers over it, so intrigued. All these little experiences seem trivial to us and we so often hurry our children along – too much to do to spend time looking at a spot or getting stuck in the rain. But to children, these are big things. And when we use these opportunities to build language, we realize they are big things. We are laying the foundation of language by putting a voice to these experiences. Helping them build memories by linking words and sounds to these firsts. This is why it is so important to talk to your children. Immerse them in the language to help them build this foundation, then continue to build upon it as they grow. And through this, we too can experience the joy and wonder of these firsts. Because they are, truly, miraculous.
Nicole Lampi, M.A.,CCC-SLP