Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wanting the Best for Syd

Sydney is now almost 17 months old and his language skills are taking off. My most recent count of words he knows and uses on a regular basis is over 50, which, from what I can tell, is really good developmentally. What truly surprises me, takes me aback, forces me to pause and reflect, though, is the fact that I can tell when his cogs are turning and his sponge is activated. There have been times when I'll say something one time and he repeats it like a mantra. I know - this is nothing new for the experienced parents out there, but it is still new to me and therefore, an awesome sight.

Syd's 18 month check up isn't until March, so I'll be able to offer a more precise developmental update at that point, but in the meantime, Steve and I are doing what we can to ensure he has the stimulation and opportunities he needs. One thing, in particular, falls into both those categories...

The human brain is a fascinating, foreign, Star Trek voyage that is only beginning to be explored and understood. Some things we know for a certainty, others are mere theory and speculation. Some things we are still years and studies from understanding. Some things we probably will never know or understand. But one certainty is that the human brain is a sponge at Sydney's age and that the window to learn language - any language - is from infancy to approximately 5-6 years of age. Steve and I are trying to capitalize on this absorbency.

We decided that, for Christmas this year, we would look into exposing him to foreign languages. I heard of Little Pim in a mothering magazine (click on the link) that I had and decided to check out their website. Little Pim offers a variety of languages and features an adorable panda bear that instructs the viewers using cartoons mixed with videos of many babies, toddlers, children, and their parents performing the activities discussed (Lui si lava le faccia, anyone? - The little boy washes his face while Pim says the phrase...).

We watch the videos, together, every day before dinner. What was once a struggle to balance preparing his components of dinner while fixing our dinner is now easily handled. He is absorbed so much in these videos we can almost hear the "thuuuup" of his brain sucking in the new language, and it is more than babysitting, since he's begun to identify things and activities in both languages. It is a beautiful sight and we're very pleased that, even if he doesn't become fluent in Italian, the synapses are being stimulated to aid in language acquisition later.

The best part of this is that Little Pim is affordable. It made my jaw drop to see how much some of the other language tutorial programs are, and when I first logged on to their website, I was hesitant...suspicious. The site offers a variety of packages. We purchased a package that includes a stuffed animal of Pim, and it did not break the bank. I am considering investing in other language(s), too, as his English and Italian develop.

I have no visions of grandeur regarding Sydney and his future. But, you never know what little step may be the stone on which he will step to greater heights than his father or I have reached. And isn't that what parenting is? Wishing better for your children than you have or may achieve? Now that we're on the path to learning Italian, I need to contact our friends in Grottaglie and start saving for a trip there!


  1. We all want the best, but be wary of those who offer the best.

    Don't get suckered by groups like this:

  2. Ha! No worries. We're very conscientious of several things - Mommy and Daddy time with actual interaction, including 'free play' as opposed to 'structured play,' limiting the screen time (Yes, I am aware that it seems we're letting the tv do the larn'in), and reiterating the phrases and sentences throughout my time with him to, not only help me remember the Italian, but also to make sure he applies the phrases in both English and Italian to the items we're learning.

    But, yes, there is so much out there for new parents to weed through. I KNOW I am a 'typical' parent in some aspects, but I also KNOW I am atypical in that I really could not care less if he eats off the floor, I realize he will fall and get scrapes, and I want him to feel secure enough to wander, explore, and learn for himself. Hell, just look at the picture of him crawling over the banister. Yes, it scared the crap out of me, but I figured if he fell, he wouldn't do it any longer.

    There are a lot of nuts out there, but nothing NOTHING replaces Mommy and Daddy and live interaction and love.

    Our favorite night time books? _Good Night, Gorilla_ and _Time for Bed_ - beautifully written and pleasant to look at. _Time for Bed_ has a rather euphonious sound to it. Excellent for the last thing he hears before drifting to sleep while nursing...