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Apr 16, 2009

Toddlers and memory

For the last few weeks, Baby D. has shown strong interest in vehicles, and developed an active vocabulary to talk about cars, trucks, firetrucks, tractors, buses, planes (most words are based on the corresponding French words, but the sounds are still very rough). No real surprise here: It sounds like boys tend to develop an affinity for vehicles at an early age.
This makes car trips a lot more fun now. Baby D looks for vehicles he knows and points excitedly to any bus, firetruck or else, respectively shouting "ba", "pa-po", etc. He repeats the exercise over and over again, without getting tired of it. (interestingly, until about a month ago, he couldn't help but fall asleep in the car at the end of a long day at daycare... but now, sleeping has become a lower priority against playing the vehicle game)
While language skills are expected to grow exponentially at this age, what I find most fascinating is the underlying memory capacity of such small beings.

On the way to daycare, we drive by an intersection where a truck has been parked for a few weeks. Day after day, Baby D. has been seeing the truck and happily recognizing it as "ta-teh". Over the last few days, not only has Baby D. been able to describe the truck, but he has started to anticipate seeing it, about half a mile before we arrive at the intersection. As a first time parent, I still can't believe that baby D. has enough memory of the road to daycare to anticipate when he should see the truck. This is a lot of information to coordinate in such a small head!
Similarly, I have been impressed by a few other events in the last days.
When getting out of the house, we saw a cat ("miao") in the neighbor's driveway. Cats are another of Baby D.'s current interests. Since we were in a hurry, we didn't spend much time looking at the cat. I quickly put Baby D. in his car seat and started driving out of the driveway: backwards, turn left, turn right. At the end of this maneuvering exercise, I was about to drive in front of the neighbor's driveway. Despite all the turns and the few minutes that had passed since we saw the cat, Baby D. turned his head to the right direction in order to have a look at the cat one more time from the car. I couldn't believe he would still remember that there was a cat nearby and where to look for it from the moving car.

I am very impressed at how quickly these memory and concentration abilities are developing. A few months ago, Baby D. wouldn't even consider sitting down to read a book. He was all about walking, climbing, exploring. But now, books seem to be very interesting, especially the ones where he can reinforce his growing vocabulary. Baby D. already masters a few books very well: he can point to objects when we name them, and he has words (sometimes his own) for most of them. Yesterday, Baby D. took it one step further: he read himself a book, completely unprompted. Sitting on the couch by himself, he grabbed a book closeby, opened it and started pointing and naming the objects featured in front of him. What a drastic progress in such a few months! With these new concentration and memories abilities, no wonder that language skills increase exponentially in babies' second year. It will be interesting to see what Baby D. learns next!

1 comment:

  1. Prepare yourself. The language development and memory/retention of facts over the next couple of years are completely fascinating. As a student of many languages (French, Russian, Spanish, Mandarin...), I find myself in awe at how fluidly our daughter is mastering English and Spanish before she's even 4. The sophistication just grows and grows. It's really amazing to observe!

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