Monday, April 19, 2021

Brothers Benjamin and Alexander

Last week for FHE, Miriam gave a PowerPoint presentation on one of our ancestors followed by a quiz on Kahoot. Everyone did very well until the very last question, which was:

"This lesson was..."

A. Amazing!
B. Meh.

Benjamin answered meh," which ended up kicking him "off the podium" for the awards ceremony and he was rather upset about it. He didn't think Miriam's lesson was terrible, but he also didn't think it was amazing. So obviously the answer had to be B!

I always wondered what type of person gets those freebie questions that teachers sneak into the test sometimes wrong. Turns out it's the Benjamin kind. He's too genuine to lie about something like this and innocently answered as honestly as he could. He couldn't understand how he got the answer wrong!

Today he and Zoë both wanted to play Prodigy for math time, which is fine because we have 10 days left of school (but who's counting?) and they are both finished with their curriculum for the year (plus, it's really not bad practice). 

"I call the laptop!" Zoë said.

This is a huge privilege because for whatever reason Prodigy is super glitchy on our iPads so whoever uses the iPad has to restart every few minutes, which is frustrating. She played the whole time I was in the shower and when I got out of the shower, Benjamin whined to me about what a frustrating time he'd had playing Prodigy on the iPad, so I announced a switch. Benjamin would get a turn on the laptop and Zoë would take a turn wrestling with the iPad. 

So Zoë just says, "Here you go, Ben!" and hands over the laptop—mid-battle!

"Zoë, what are you thinking?!" Benjamin asked. "Finish your battle first! I can wait!"

He handed the laptop back to her and waited for her to answer enough questions to vanquish whatever foe she was facing, which was a rather sweet move on his part. He can be a very considerate person. 

Andrew, meanwhile, was working on setting up an old desktop computer that works with the television screen and has a wireless keyboard (the same kind of set up we had at the Durham house...and just...haven't set back up since moving for some reason), so eventually both kids were playing on devices that worked well so we can abandon trying to use the iPads with Prodigy. 

Alexander asked me if I would have some colouring time with him. He enjoys colouring with people these days. When I asked him if he wanted to colour on blank paper or if he wanted me to print out something specific for him to colour he asked if I would print something out. So I asked him what sort of thing he'd like me to print out and he said, "I haven't done any math work yet today so will you print out a math worksheet for me to do?"

That's a twenty-word sentence.

Now, I'm not sure if anyone outside of this house would have understood him, but he really does have a rather extensive vocabulary and talks about complex ideas. According to Web MD, a child between the age of 3 and 4 should be able to:
  • Say their name and age
  • Speak 250 to 500 words
  • Answer simple questions
  • Speak in sentences of five to six words, and speak in complete sentences by age 4
  • Speak clearly, although they may not be fully comprehensible until age 4 
  • Tell stories
According to Speech and Language Kids, a 3-year-old should have a good grasp on the following consonants: /p/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/. 

I can confidently say that he works well with those consonants. It's true that he's missing a lot of the other consonants, which doesn't help with his...understandability...but he's got time to figure things out still (and I'm working with him to help him form some sounds correctly). Childhood Chatter has a pretty good breakdown of when children should develop certain sounds. He can say most sounds in isolation. I would say the consonants he uses on a regular basis are: /m/, /b/, /y/, /n/, /d/, /p/, /h/, /t/, /f/, and /v/. 

Sometimes he pronounces /w/ words with a /v/ instead, but he also sometimes says it correctly. He can't say /k/ or /g/ in context (though we're working on isolating the back of his tongue (that's a hard skill)). Instead he says /t/ or /d/. 

/ch/ is impossible for him at this point. He usually does /v/ for that. /j/ is either /r/ or /v/, depending on the word. He can say /sh/ and /s/ in isolation but rarely uses them in context (and /s/ for whatever unexplained reason often comes out as /b/). We've been working on the sentence, "I need a tissue," and he can say /sh/ in that specific context but doesn't use it "in the wild," so to speak. /th/ is /f/ or /v/, depending on whether it's voiced or unvoiced. 

He can say /r/ for some words, but it also sometimes comes out as a /w/. Same thing with /l/. Like, he'll say "I love you" just fine but instead of saying "I like you" he'll say "I wite you."

We've been working hard on /z/, which he's gotten in isolation (but Zoë is still Bwo-bwo or Bwoë). 

And, actually, when I asked him to say "measure," he did. But I think that was a fluke because /zh/ is not a sound he regularly forms. 

He has until he's 5-and-a-half to get down /k/, /g/, /f/, /v/, /ch/, and /j/, though so I think he's doing pretty good with the list of consonants he's mastered for now. The only hangup I have with his speech is that he should be 75–100% "intelligible" by age three. And I'm not sure he is...

That said, my theory is that he's only unintelligible because he's not speaking in sentences of "five to six words." He's speaks in flowery sentences that run into protracted paragraphs, and people just...can't keep up. I mean, we at home can typically keep up (but not always). But outside of our when we video call with's not guaranteed that they will understand him. 

Yesterday he was trying to tell my parents that they watched a show about crocodiles and they learned that mother crocodiles lay their eggs in a nest and use decomposing leaves to keep them warm and the eggs can turn from boy to girl to boy to girl depending on the temperature of the nest. If the nest is too warm or too cold, the baby crocodiles will be girls, but if the nest is just right, the baby crocodiles will be boys.

I think the only part my parents truly understood of his impassioned speech (he thinks crocodiles are really cool these days) was his opening line of, "DID YOU KNOW..." which he executed flawlessly. The rest of his speech sounded a little bit like a bubbling brook. But I think that's okay for now because if he said a normal three-year-old sentence like, "I NEED TO DOE POTTY!" (where doe = go), I think they would understand him just fine. He just...doesn't ever feel the need to shout that at them because he'd much rather give them a full-on speech about crocodiles.

Anyway, my mom asked me if she thought he needed speech therapy (which is not a question that offended me because...yes, I have (obviously) wondered whether he needs some intervention). At this point, I don't think he needs any intervention beyond what I'm doing with him. We read together a lot. We speak to him a lot and give him plenty of time to practice his speech. He's (somewhat) willing to try new sounds when I coach him. His vocabulary is increasing rapidly. He recognizes letters (and knows a lot of their sounds) and his numbers (for the most part). 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't think of that--this is exactly true. He says SO MUCH that it is concerning that we don't understand him. If he said LESS, we probably WOULD understand. Also, he speaks very rapidly because he has a lot to say. And we don't listen fast enough. I think you need to tell him to slow down for the old people, or something!! Then we could maybe keep up!!