Just a post for myself, both some things Niko is currently doing and some school readiness notes for myself. Brace yourselves for an upcoming post about how the Chicago Public Schools system works. (spoiler: not well.)
Niko consistently names the colors “red” and “blue” (“weh” and “beeeyuuuu”) although sometimes he automatically adds “tar” (car) or “tootoo” (train) after the color name, because he’s usually talking about red cars or blue trains or whatever.
He sometimes says “pink” (“bih”), “purple” (“burrpuh”) and “orange” (“ourah”) but doesn’t seem comfortable saying the words.
He can identify red, blue, pink, orange, green, yellow, purple, black, and white. He will point to or fetch the appropriately colored item (block, car, sock) or shake his head no/yes to indicate what color something is (is the shirt green? no? yellow? no? red? no? orange? yes!).
He recently learned to say peekaboo (pee-ka-BOO) and is all about hiding and popping out now. He also plays peekaboo: he hides his face, and says “where da baby?” and “where da mama?” then “PEE KA BOO!”
He loves exclamations like A-HA!, dances when he sees a penguin (I guess that’s what penguins do? they dance?), picked up the word “wiggle” (WIIIGUH!), and apparently cheers himself on with the phrase “good job!” when he’s at my in-laws (it’s a phrase I use when he accomplishes something; I never hear him use it at home).
Nesko was in the bathroom the other day and Niko went looking for him. “Where tata? Where cu bee? (where could he be?)” At my in-laws, he phrases the same questions in Serbian. “To baba?”
He describes things by color (if he has the color name) and by descriptor. A truck is a “bit tah!” (big car). A toy car is a “baby tah!” “Beeyuuuuu baby tah!”
He also describes things by what they are NOT. The back of a book we have features photos of other books in the series: a book about a tractor, a bulldozer, and a fire engine. Niko is always excited to see these machines (flipping to the back cover is part of the story time experience with that book), and he is quick to point out that they are not trains, and are not cars.
He calls his pacifier, which we (Nesko and I, and Nesko’s family… basically every single person he encounters) consistently call a susula, a “nyu nyu.” He manages to make a sucking/suckling sound when saying that. Nesko’s able to replicate it, I’m not.
He calls Nesko’s mom “baba” and Nesko’s dad “not baba.” I think it’s because he has a hard time saying “djedo,” although he’s said it before when he fell in some snow and his hands got cold and wet. He was hesitant to start walking until he was comfortable doing so, confident that he wouldn’t fall over. I think he could have started walking weeks or more before he actually let go. New words seem to have the same caution. He can say “orange” and “purple” and “pink,” but he can’t say them well, so he doesn’t say them often… when, ironically, saying them more frequently would lead to saying them better. Obviously, I need to keep working with him on colors and encourage him to say these words.
He’s really starting to echo phrases we use (“good job,” “where could he be?”) as a way of conversing, but is also putting words together on his own… sometimes delightedly (“beyuuu tootoo. bih too too. Bih beyuuu tootoo!” (blue train. big train. big blue train.)). He likes certain verbal sounds (which reminds me of Crusty the Clown talking about funny words… “mukluk” is funny. Some words are just inherently funny; Niko agrees.) and picks up some words very quickly… pickle, wiggle, goofball.
He consistently recognizes the letter “o.” He can pick out lower case p, b, and d as being similar, and tends to call them all “b,” but will correct himself if prompted. He calls “m’s” myom myom because he eats M&Ms (myom myom is food). He recognizes other letters as being distinct shapes… He kept pointing to two Ys that were on the same item, in different fonts and colors.
His interest in counting consists mostly of tapping/pointing at things while I count aloud. If I ask him the color of something and he knows it but can’t/won’t say it, he does a similar tapping then nods when I name the color. So I’m hoping actual verbal counting comes soon, he’s just holding himself back. He “counts” on his own, tapping things and saying “dah dah dah” at each tap.
He calls circles and ovals “Ohhhhs.” I need to work with him on other shape names. He’s got a shapes puzzle I need to pull out so we can name shapes together.
I know there are parents who use flash cards. I’m not sure how interested Niko would be in flash cards. I’m thinking of making an alphabet book of our own… also thinking of working with Nesko to do one in Serbian, both in Latin and Cyrillic. It would be educational for me, that’s for sure. I practice counting 1-10 in both English and Serbian with Niko, but the words are only in English when we read counting books. I might do a Serbian counting book as well.
Niko got 3 wooden train sets for his birthday (spoiled much? yes. yes, he is.) and he’s been playing with them pretty much non stop. Two of them have bridges that involve a curved (not curved like a quarter circle, curved like a rocking S shape) track. These curved tracks frustrate him because they don’t lie FLAT, they need supports, they’re easily knocked over, etc. I put all four curved pieces away so he wouldn’t encounter them and get frustrated/angry/upset. He found them, dragged them back down, and… connected them into a sinuous shape, wedging blocks under them for support, and basically treated them like a roller coaster track for his trains. “Whee,” he said. “whee!” They’re still a frustrating thing because the way they are curved they don’t connect flat with the other pieces (one end connects with the normal flat track, the other end curves up into the air) so the trains can get hung up on the connectors. But he found a cool way to play with them anyway. He is good at solving problems.
Pre-K gifted program tests include questions about the days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. We haven’t touched on that at all. At all, at all.