Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Word for word, they are listening

When the adults are gathered around, talking about their day, going through various topics and voicing their opinions, where are the children? Oh, it's OK - they are busy watching their favourite television program, they are not taking any of the chatter in.

I have witnessed first hand that this is not always the case.

Children may be fully focused on the television screen, they may be laughing along to the antics on their favourite show, they may even not respond when you say their name several times. They are, on the other hand, still taking in parts of the conversation in the background, ears pricked and brain sucking like a sponge. Admittedly, they keep one ear cocked purely so they don't miss out on any opportunities, but it is amazing the things they remember about who said what and the exact context with which it was used.

I have various examples.

Hubby and his mates often gather in the shed, also know here as "the man cave". They sit and reminisce, telling jokes and ribbing each other. Occasionally, they may be doing something constructive as well.
They were doing this one particular day when hubby called his mate some descriptive words that he reserves for adult conversation only. But this was OK, because the children were not in the shed. They were playing in the adjacent yard. He could hear them jumping on the trampoline, laughing and chatting.
A while later the children came out of the yard, just as hubby's mate exited the shed. My son and hubby's mate got in each others way. My son, only 3 at the time was quick to say "Out of the way", but then added the descriptive words, just as hubby had phrased them awhile back in the shed.
It was unmistakable that he had heard hubby's words exactly, and had now used them in the same context. It's funny how kids learn words and where they should be used so quickly. Hubby and his mates now speak in hushed tones in "the man cave".

Another example involves my father-in-laws love of boating.
He has two boats, but loves his Huon Pine Motor/ Sail boat. He speaks with passion about his boat, mostly to the grandchildren, as they are a much more accepting and engrossed audience, as he tells stories of his hopes and dreams for himself on boating adventures.
On our way past a bridge recently, our son must have been thinking about "Pop's boat". Hubby and I were discussing our agenda for the day when, quite out of the blue, Master 4 piped up with "Pop's boat is just right you know? Not too big, not too small. Just right." Hubby and I looked at each other with a grin. It was as if my father-in-law was in the car with us. The description were his words. My son had obviously heard him say this many times in one of his raves to his friends.

Children are learning all of the time, and a great way for them to learn is through listening to others and hearing how words are put together. Unfortunately, they may hear conversation that is not meant for them. This can and should be avoided where possible. Other times, they pick up some great use of language in words and tones.

They key is to remember, that children are always listening. 

Have you found your kids have been listening when you thought they weren't? Or do they say things word for word that they have picked up from others?