If you know my Hank, you know he is a talker. If he has your attention, he isn’t going to let it go. He is going to tell you a story. And not just any story, but a story of great importance, an epic saga that will engage you and leave you pondering his wise words for days on end. A story such as “Yesterday, when I was a baby, I went to the zoo and the monkey threw his poop.” Oh yeah, did I mention that 90% of his stories have something to do with butts or poop? Uggg.
But that isn’t what I am going to talk about. We can discuss Hank and Gus’s obsession with all things gross on another day. Today we are going to talk about “yesterday.” Hank did not go to the zoo “yesterday.” Nor was he a baby “yesterday.” He was once a baby, and he has gone to the zoo…just not “yesterday.” However, in his sweet little mind, everything that has already occurred happened “yesterday.”
Why is that? Because he is three. And a three year-old, (and all those younger than three) have absolutely no concept of the bizarre and foreign concept of time. There is truly three places in the continuum of time: yesterday, now, tomorrow. It does not matter if it happened 18 minutes ago, in Hank and Gus’s mind, it was yesterday. It does not matter if we are going to Grandma’s in a week, we are going tomorrow if you ask my boys. Time is tricky. Because time isn’t tangible.
This applies to play, too. The cow jumps. They do not care if the cow “jumped” and they do not care if the cow is “going to jump.” The cow jumps. That is all that matters…the here and now. And guess what…this is also how they are going to learn new language! No kiddo has ever learned the past or future tense of a word before they have learned the present tense. That’s not a thing.
On top of that, let’s take a minute to remember where our child’s interest is. They are little. So they care about what is happening this very moment. Can you possibly imagine your toddler planning for their future, which is 3 minutes away? Or pondering on their past from 7 minutes ago? Nope. Done. Gone.
Talk to your kiddos in the present. “You brush! Brush your teeth! Brush, brush, brush!” They will love it! And, even better, they will learn it! Because kids learn by seeing and doing. They will hear words while they see and do! Ta da! Language development at its finest!
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