October 30, 2002 - Wednesday
From out of the blue at dinner, Harry turns to his mother.
"Bats are nocturnal [we a heavy accent on "tur," but without much "r"]. The can see in the dark. They eat bugs," he says in a matter of fact manner.
It was a classic case of a child parroting something they'd learned that day at school, but his mother and I both laughed and complimented Harry on his newly gained acumen on bats. The laughter, of course, was from surprise and thrill that Harry's using words like "nocturnal," but there's more to it than just that. He's used other big words, but we've almost inevitably been the source and it's been easy to trace most of them back to something we said or read. We can trace this information back, too. It's Creepy Creatures month at preschool and today they learned about bats. But, that's the second thing that's fun about it: Harry has been learning at school and it's something that I've been noticing over the last two months. Almost as soon as he started there, his words started to become clearer and his sentences more complete, even often with grammatical integrity. Then, too, his vocabulary improved markedly. Aside from his early apprehensions about being at a new place, I think it's pretty clear that the new school has been very good for him and knowing that bats are nocturnal is just punctuation.
Stil, repeating the information shows that at just less than three years old, Harry and his peers are truly learning about the world, not just from experiences as might be more obvious, but from books, stories, and their teacher. Somehow it's a little too easy to see Cathleen, Harry's very capable and bright classroom teacher, as more of a baby-sitter, full of practical ideas to occupy a handful of three-year-olds for several hours a day. This little report from Harry confirms that she is much more, a real teacher who's educating and even shaping the children, and that Harry is already a true student.