The Best Time to Start

The Best Time to Start

When is the best time to start teaching your child? Most kids start babbling around 6 months and can say “mama” or “dada” around 7-8 months of age, but do you start teaching them then? Or earlier? Studies show babies recognize their caregivers at 3-4 months of age, but I suspect it is earlier as most newborn babies tend to calm down the fastest with their primary caregiver, assuming they are giving calming vibes.


The next question is:  How advanced is too advanced? What exactly is age appropriate?


I remember vividly when M was laying on the changing table at seven months of age. My husband was dressing her by putting socks on her little feet. I could hear “left” and “right” coming out of his mouth with pauses in between.

              Baby feet on blanket


As a new mother, I peeked around the corner, part curiosity and part annoyance. What on Earth is taking so long?


“I’m teaching her ‘left’ and ‘right,’” he mentioned.


My mother-in-law popped up behind me. Before my daughter, I knew nothing about children, absolute zip. I also had no interest in reading to prepare myself as child prep books just riddled me with anxiety. So, at the beginning of motherhood, I looked to her as my guru. This magnificent lady, not only had five grandchildren under her belt, raised three wonderful children, but was a school teacher and die-hard baby lover and everything children. When we used to go out together, she would point at all the “cute” children and babies whereas I would barge right into them if they were below thigh height. Anyway, when it comes to kids, she knows her stuff.


“Oh honey,” she said in her soothing voice to my husband, “she’s too young.”


I shrugged and didn’t think much of it.


When M was eighteen months, we moved into a house with a yard. My husband, who since boyhood, always wanted a kid driving car, one that a child could sit and control. Well, he bought one to live vicariously through our daughter. We placed her in the seat for the very first time and before we knew it, she had taken off. All was going well until we realized, she didn’t know how to steer!


We had no control so made our hands into amplifiers and shouted “Right!” before she crashed into the Boxwood or drove over the ledge. M did it! She had grabbed the steering wheel and turned. Coincidence? Maybe, but then we started calling out directions: “left” and “right” and she would follow our commands.


Gosh, I really miss those days when she wouldn’t question my every move with “why?”


Between that first moment and the electric car incident, my husband reinforced the directions in subtle and different times, but it was really at that instant that I realized, it’s never too early to start.