Keeping up with a moving toddler, walking around unsteadily helps us to look at our world with new eyes. The tin filled with lentils hardly noticed except in the flurry of cooking suddenly becomes the treasure which calls forth heart warming coos of wonder and delighted chuckles. The child demands our attention with her pointing finger. Her question is clear. “What is that?” Nothing but the name will satisfy the child. “It is a tin filled with lentils. Listen! It makes a noise when I shake it.” Gurgles of laughter from the child who immediately without words is able to communicate to us that the wonderful game must be played again. Over and over and over again the child calls us to name the things that are in her environment. She is persistent and delighted with the answer every single time.
Children love words. The environment in which they live is a treasure house. Every object in the home, on the terrace, in the car, in the street, on the beach – every object they experience can be named. “Let us get our feet wet. The waves will come up to touch our toes. You cannot see your toes now, the sand has covered them up!” The child is a collector of these names. “Let us put all the carrots in a bag. Let us put these potatoes in this basket. The carrots and the beetroot go into the refrigerator!”
Sometimes we get impatient repeating over and over. Sometimes it is tiring to talk to a little one who cannot speak. But children help us find that patience as we remember that the listening children are laying an inner foundation for words and their patterns, and when we know that these names help children take possession of their world.