Tag Archives: development

Yes, but can you SAY it?

I have a mild amount of concern about my late-talker toddler: something between strong awareness and greatly worried. She’s just not talking in the same way she’s learned other skills. She’s good at identifying many things, she is pretty good at communicating her desires by pointing, making sounds, giving me looks… She’s very adept at getting worked up while pointing like I’m a complete idiot who doesn’t understand what she wants. I have told her that she should probably just SAY something instead of pointing harder, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

But still, the word count remains low. If I’m generous, she says about 7 words. She hasn’t added any new words in over a month. What is more alarming, she doesn’t make a lot of sounds anymore either. I haven’t heard her say “c” or “k” clearly, in awhile. Or “g” now that I think about it. She used to say “g” all the time. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard “s” or “w” or “l.”

On one hand, everything I’ve read says that it’s still too early to really panic about a late talker. On the other hand, I keep seeing things that suggest that kids should have at least 20 words in their vocabulary by now or else they should see a speech therapist.

Conveniently, my mom is a speech therapist. She remains unworried. Should I be worried that she’s not worried? Probably!

I have tried to get a little pushy, lately, and I can get her to make an “n” sound if she really wants to nurse. And she’s happy to point out any and all dogs when she sees them by saying “da.” But she also says “da” for “that” and “dad” so…

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted if there are any remarkable changes. In the meantime, I’ll just be working on my “concerned” face.

Airing my “redshirting” laundry

Since I have an August baby, I’m going to take this as good news and stop worrying. Really.

“Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril” New York Times 24 September

Wang and Aamodt, the authors of “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College,” show in a neurobiologically fascinating way how young children are challenged in constructive ways by being educated with older students to their own benefit.

I was always youngest in my class, also being a summer baby, but my mom totally had my educational ducks in a row ahead of time. I am probably not nearly as diligent as her. Because of my even-later summer baby, I have been reading and following the articles (and there are many!) on “redshirting” (the practice of holding kids back for kindergarten so that when they start school, they are the oldest pupil in their class). There are some significant studies that link students who are older upon kindergarten entry with greater academic success through elementary and middle school. By grade 4,  older kids were performing better by a few percentage points. By grade 8, in the U.S., older students were 4-8 percent higher in their class ranks than the youngest students. (If you want the full text of this 2006 study by Kathy Bedard and Elizabeth Dhuey click HERE.)

However, a new study by Kasey Buckley and Daniel M. Hungerman at the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at relevant data from the birth certificate of all children born in the United States from 1989-2001. What they found was a slight correlation between the seasons of the year wealthier or poorer women gave birth. The better-off moms got pregnant during the winter holidays and poor women typically get pregnant during the late spring and summer months. Therefore, much of the advantage shown by the previous Bedard and Dhuey study can be attributed to the economic circumstances of their birth, since babies born to the December conception set would most likely miss the cut-offs for many state’s kindergarten enrollments, pushing them into the next class year where they would be oldest in their group.

The New York Times Magazine piece that tipped off much debate was Elizabeth Weil’s 2007 piece, “When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten?” It contains an overview, much of it anecdotal, of some of the problems that face younger kids. I could not help being concerned about my daughter getting clobbered on the playground, humiliated in reading group, confused during a math exercise. Even though the newer studies are giving us more information about age and success at school in ways we can improve upon (such as early preparation), I still read this article with a touch of apprehension. But for now, I’m going to stop worrying. As much.

I’ll try…

Some other interesting articles:

“Should Children Redshirt Kindergarten?” at The Daily Beast

“Redshirting Kindergarten” at The Huffington Post

“The Downside of Redshirting” at The Slate