With my daughter’s third birthday right around the corner, I can’t help but look back on how she has grown and matured in her three busy years of life. I can remember back to the first coos and goos, her first word – “cat”, her first word combinations at just 14 months of age (proud speech therapist mommy moment!) and now at almost three, learning to use language to negotiate, flirt, demand, command, play, sing, joke, and make amends. She touches my heart with her daily apologies – “Mommy I sorry I hit you brush my teeth” – and makes me laugh out loud when she prompts me to apologize to her for (accidentally) bonking her head with a ball when she missed my throw. I am amazed as I watch her take risks with language, make funny mistakes, try again, and blossom into a funny, sweet, sassy, kind, thoughtful, loving, and talkative little girl. When she was young, I vowed to be a mom, not a speech therapist, to her, so that I could watch her language unfold, and experience firsthand the magic of learning language.
And magical it has been. Not always perfect, but that is the beauty of it. It is a process of listening, experimentation and refinement that their developing brains are “wired” to do. Patricia Kuhl,of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, studies early brain development and language acquisition. She explains the ”Linguistic Genius of Babies” in an inspiring TED Talk: