Today was the last day of the course “How to Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence”, where we wrapped up discussion on the Developmental Profile and finished up with “How to Teach Your Baby a Foreign Language” and “How to Teach Your Baby Music.” At the beginning of the week, when we received our itinerary, I looked at it and thought – only an hour on foreign language? how can that be! it is so important! and an hour on music? we don’t need music!
Again, wrong! All week, our instructors stressed teaching us the “Why” and minimal time on the “How to” for each topic covered. When someone would ask about foreign languages, our instructors would smile and say, that’s on Friday. Friday comes, we are all expecting some grand plan. It ended up being so simple. It was really just an extension of everything we had already learned, but easier. People sell you programs that are very confusing and involved. But remember, teaching kids is nothing like teaching adults. And while we are dunces when it comes to learning and retaining new language, as Glenn Doman put it, kids are linguistic geniuses.
I was not one of those mother’s who played classical music to my baby while I was pregnant. I didn’t really see how classical music could make my baby smarter while he was bouncing around my uterus. But I did sing to him when he was in there. Today, Moose loves music. He sings and dances constantly, hums and scats to wordless songs. I figured, he already loves music, why do I need to do a music program? This program is very simple in design and execution, but absolutely priceless in payoff. I can’t remember the last time I sat and listened to classical music. Kathy Myers, our instructor, did quick examples of how to teach your baby music, and we listened to 30 second clips of several songs. When you know the story behind the song, you listen, really listen. That’s when you get that tingle in your spine, that momentary suspension in time – much like meditation. That’s when I realized, if I only did one other program besides reading, I would teach Moose how to appreciate music.
At the end of the day, we got a chance to go around and share the most important thing we learned. It was a very emotional hour. I was choked up and bawling when it was my turn, and everyone who spoke was either crying or had really watery eyes. One woman said the week was like being on a roller coaster – one minute you are up, thinking – yay! I did something right with my child or yay! I can’t wait to teach my child that. The next minute you are down, mostly regretting not doing something with your current child or just sad that no one ever shared this amazing information with you.
I had a great “up” moment. During our wrap up of the Developmental Profile, Janet let us in on a little secret – little babies can talk and communicate, quite clearly. IF you are willing to listen. Some people had a look of shock, and indeed we saw it happen in person with the 4-month old we met during demonstrations. Some babies speak rather clearly – we heard an audio recording of one of the instructors with her own son many years ago – at 12 weeks old, he was clearly saying the last word in each line of “Hey Diddle Diddle”. Keyden, the 4 month old in the demonstration, wasn’t as clear verbally, but he did respond to you if you asked a question with either body gestures or grunts. Janet reminded us that many brain-injured or stroke patients communicate in exactly this way. They have the intelligence to know what they are trying to say, they just don’t have the motor skills required to say it out loud.
This was one of my “up” moments. One of the common factors behind babies who communicate this way is that you rarely hear the newborn cry (parents know, it is that high, “wahhhh!!” that pierces straight through your heart and gets your attention right away). There are some toddlers who are still quite skilled at the newborn cry. Moosie only had that cry on the first day or two of his life. After that, we developed a little language with him. He was quite the babbler, and we loved to have conversations with him. Before Ben would leave for long trips, they would have this intense conversation. This video was taken when Moose was 7 weeks old.
While I would love to pat myself on the back and take credit for this communication, it really happened by accident. I was a very lonely in those early days and I would spend my days talking to Moose. I noticed if I waited long enough, he would talk back. When he would cry, it was only when he got hurt or was really frustrated, and even then it was never that heart-wrenching cry.
I attributed this to Moose’s laid back temperament. In reality, it is a skill any parent can teach their little baby. It takes respect and patience for the child. Actually, that is really all you need to accomplish ANY of the topics covered this week. I’ve discussed respect before. Too many times we make excuses for our child. If they do something negative, we slap some label onto the action and it becomes an excuse for the behavior. There is always a reason. Respect the child, and they will return the respect. While it is easy to teach the program, it does require a good deal of organization and preparation. In the beginning, when you are trying to figure out a rhythm, you need patience. Once you get going, the child will pick up the information faster than you can dole it out. That is when it gets exciting.
As I step off the roller coaster of this week and exit to the left, my excitement carries over to the next ride – actually teaching and applying everything I’ve learned. I know from talking to parents of the kids at the Institute that the key to success is to start small and don’t get stressed with expectations. My plan is to start with something I know Moose loves, and slowly start adding in more as his interest grows. My ultimate goal is not for him to be a successful and rich doctor or lawyer (unless that is what he wants). My goal is for him to love learning and have a huge database of knowledge. The bigger the base, the more he will know. The more he knows, the better chance he will have at finding what drives him and makes him happy. And that will make the ride worth it.