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Oct 25, 2010

Science and language learning at 2.5 years

Today, on the way back from school, I had a very interesting discussion with Daniel in the car. It started with Daniel asking who had built the car I was driving, and proceeded with a lot of questions about things that can be built vs. things that grow by themselves. We went through the explanations that trees don't need to be built. They just need water and grow by themselves. But wooden fences need to be built. And so on...
I think the categorization between these 2 concepts worked pretty well for Daniel until he asked if sand was built or growing with water. Well, it turned out that there are more than 2 categories, and so I had to go on and explain another way things might be. That's when things started to become more complicated. Daniel continued asking if kids were built or growing with water... Hm, not really either.
We had a very good discussion about all kinds of different things, and we ended up returning to our topic of cars. We identified that cards didn't have eyes, so they were objects and not people.

I think this was one of the most complex discussions I have had with Daniel so far. He was very engaged asking questions and repeating the key concepts I was discussing. This is how I realized that the world is complex for kids to learn. We, adults, take all of these facts for granted. But for kids, identifying patterns, and learnings what belongs where is a difficult job. No wonder Daniel was completely exhausted by the time we got home....

On the other topic of learning languages, Daniel is continuing his slow but steady progress towards making real sentences in French or German. It still only represents a fraction of what he says, but he frequently says entire sentences in French, and the grammar is mostly correct. It also include prepositions, verbs, etc... English is still the dominating language by far, but it's encouraging that he keeps trying.

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