Do not be afraid or doubtful about being the first to teach your child/ward a new thing, procrastinate not.
Many times, I had wanted to use a new word for communication with my son, and then I refrained. Reason is, I usually assume he may not understand the new word. Then the next minute or sometime in the near future, I hear my sonÔÇÖs say that word to me, then I feel very guilty for not have been the first to use the word for him out of thinking that he may not understand. Then, out of my curiosity, IÔÇÖd ask how he got to know about the word, then he could tell me ÔÇÿhis teacher, his dad, school bus attendant etc’.
The above scenario has happened to me on several occasions and I have had to feel guilty for procrastinating teaching my son the new word or even assuming he may not understand the meaning nor use it to construct a sentence, now I have resolved to use whatever good word that comes to me in communicating with him, the worst that can happen is that he may not understand the word at the time, then I will take it upon myself to teach him the pronunciation, meaning and usage and this applies to every child that comes my way.
I was surprised the first day my son used the word ÔÇÿrestoredÔÇÖ, I wouldnÔÇÖt have thought in my wildest imagination that he understands the word nor use it in a sentence. Apparently, his class teacher had asked them to stop saying ÔÇÿup NEPAÔÇÖ when electricity comes, rather they are to say ÔÇÿthe light has been restoredÔÇÖ. All I notice is that he stopped saying ÔÇÿUp NEPAÔÇÖ when light comes and says ‘the light has been restored’, even though the word ÔÇÿrestoredÔÇÖ doesnÔÇÖt seem to come out as clear as other words, then one day I took it upon myself to really understand what he says when light comes, then I realized it was ÔÇÿrestoredÔÇÖ. I had to call his class teacher and she confirmed it.
This doesnÔÇÖt only apply to English words, for instance my mum in law sometimes speaks Ijebu Yoruba to my son and I see him respond adequately. Even me, the Ijebu Yoruba sometimes confuses me sef.
What I realize is that the brain of a child wonÔÇÖt come knocking on your door to tell you that itÔÇÖs ready to process or understand a new word or new thing, the onus lies on us as adults to say the word regardless, teach and explain it until the child understands and feels comfortable to use it. This applies to other things, like teaching a child how to do somethings (e.g packing up of toys etc), s/he may not get perfect at it the first time, but with constant practice, s/he will get to go around the task perfectly.
Another exciting angle I see to this is that a child usually remembers who first taught him/her something and I think that would give such adult some sort of honour and fulfillment.
Lesson: do not limit or underestimate the brain of a child, youÔÇÖd be surprised at how much and fast they learn. Be willing to teach when the opportunity presents itself.