Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur
First, let’s turn back a few pages of our lives and think about our children or even ourselves when we were toddlers. How did we learn a complete language – our mother tongue?
At one or two years of age children are not taught language using textbooks in classrooms, they learn from the sounds, words, sentences spoken by people around them. Often, when talking to children this young we use actions along with words to help them understand. Therefore, in most cases, children can associate a visual or a gesture with what is being said. Many a time the child is part of the action that is being described. For instance, when we say, “Come let’s eat our lunch”, “You look cute in that towel”, “The swing was so much fun”, we are including children when we talk. Therefore, children constantly “feel” the verbal interaction around them. In fact, when a child does not feel the words spoken to him/her, you can see that he/she simply ignores it. So a child this young uses visuals, actions, and feelings to gather data about words and sentences and then applies logic to figure out what the word, sentence and indeed the whole communication means. Another way children learn is to repeat what they hear or see, build patterns, sing songs and rhymes even if they don’t understand the words.
The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bangalore that works with children. To know more about their work visit www.geniekids.com.