Aiden is very busy, always exploring and gets bored with his toys pretty quickly. Yesterday I started playing a game with him - naming colors - and was SHOCKED when he started trying to repeat the words. After another game I quickly invented, he labeled the colors of two objects correctly. I am not trying to brag, I'm just genuinely surprised that my developmental text books are right about how young and how rapidly babies can learn. (And I'm so greatful that I had the opportunity in college to be taught how I can help my children learn!)
Here is what I did:
Aiden was pulling duplos (legos) out of his toy room cubby and I was naming the colors as he pulled the blocks out one by one. There are only four colors: red, blue, yellow & green. After ten or twelve labels, I noticed he began to slow down and would pause, block in hand in mid air, to look at me and wait for the name. I was naming colors but I wondered if he was wanting to know what the object was called, not the color. Since I already know babies will learn the labels of the most obvious object traits first (ie: color), I set up a quick lesson. I sorted a heap of his toys by color. There was a blue pile with a lego, a plastic sorting block, a sand shovel and a foam letter in it. The red pile had a similar mix, including a plastic hammer, and so on. Then I very quickly directed Aiden's attention to a pile, rapidly lifted objects one at a time and said "blue", then put it back in the pile, grabbed another item, labeled it "blue" and continued until I had labeled all the items in the pile as blue. When the playroom floor has all the toys sorted by color into piles (and all the multi colored toys put away), it's very obvious, even to a child, that the objects have color in common and that is what you are labeling. It worked. I went through the other colors while he watched and I swear, I could almost see the light bulb come on as he looked over the sorted piles on the floor. He can't say the color names very well at all. He only says the beginning sound, "buh" for blue, "gruh" for green, "yuh" for yellow, "rrrr" for red. After a few incorrect color labels, he did honestly and spontaneously label two toys correctly. I think we'll play this game again today!
I should add, however, that I am NOT an advocate of pushing/forcing children to learn. I am very much for the power of play. (If you haven't read the book "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards", you simply must. Must, must, MUST!!! Order it online this SECOND!) Our game was invented on the fly to try and keep a busy boy still for a few more seconds and teach him something new and exciting. I'll only play it for fun, not drill him or expect perfection. It's so much more important that he learns how much I love him and that nothing about his entire being is disappointing to me. Being able to name a few colors at ten months is a failure if for one second my precious son thinks I only love him when he meets my expectations.