There are his words, and his dance moves that are so perfectly in cue with the beat, there is his love of running as quickly as he can, and jumping in place while hooting with glee. He is enjoying his body and all the ways he can move and express himself with it all. As his momma, all of it is so incredible to watch emerge and take shape. This little person, so perfectly complete and whole in the ways that truly matter in this life, just as he is now, at 22 months, and just as he was a birth.
My son will be turning two in just a few more months. And what an incredible journey it has been for my husband and me, to be growing right along side our first child. Since his birth, our boy's voice has been a joyful constant in our home. And over the last year, his thoughts and wants and needs are being shared through words that have in recent months become sentences. Each day there is more to share, as his words and excitement give way to being recognized and responded to within our own family, and by the adults and older children we spend our time with. Even our neighbor's dog, a funny little Schnauzer named Pickle, responds to him when he is called over, much to my son's delight.
My husband and I are avid readers ourselves, and have followed our son's lead and his own love of books from early on. Our local library hosts fantastic cruisers-and-crawlers, toddler and children's story time hours and sing-alongs that are free to the community and that are scheduled throughout the week. Each group meets separately and focuses on developing early literacy skills and supporting a child's natural curiosity and love of books. The groups are facilitated by a librarian who focuses on books and activities that are developmental appropriate and that are also incredibly fun.
In cruisers-and-crawlers, we sang songs together and played with the sounds of individual letters, vowels and built them up into words. We were introduced to wide range of vocabulary and illustrations through the carefully chosen books. Books, which our lovely librarian pointed out, are an ideal way to bring an unlimited variety of words, ideas and sounds into a family's playful learning. She introduced to us books that featured animals, people and situations that were uncommon for most people's daily life, but that introduced us to some wonderful fundamentals of the wider world; that chicks emerge from eggs and that there is indeed an animal named "hippopotamus" that can walk on land and swim underwater.
In this youngest group, our babies would intently watch our mouths as we sounded out new words and sang songs together. There was so much learn packed into these hours of fun. And outside of being a relatively easy outing for my son and I when we were still getting the hang of leaving the house together, we were also spending time playing and learning with other families and building our community.
Look to your own community library for programs and activities that they may offer. Libraries are eager to have families searching their shelves for books to check out and to enjoy at home. And if your local library does not currently host family programs, ask if they can meet your requests for story times that are led either by librarians or community volunteers. If you run up against tight budgets or scheduling issues, ask if your family, and others who are interested, can meet within the library and create your own story time. Each family can then take turns choosing books and leading to the group.
Here is a link
to my local library. You will see that there are many different groups and weekly events for various ages, as well as educational support for teachers and parents, as well as home-schooling and no-schooling families. There is even a "Read to a Dog" event when young readers can develop their out-loud reading skills while keeping a certified therapy dog happily entertained.
My husband and I have enjoyed bringing home our own childhood favorites to share with our son and looking for new books to read together. In recent years, the publication of children's books has skyrocketed, with topics reaching far and wide. Your own family's favorites are on a shelf just waiting to be enjoyed together.