This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

“Science shows that the first five years of life is when the brain grows fastest.”  I’ve heard this many times, but right now with my daughter I am seeing just how true it is.  She’s at the adorable stage where she is discovering her voice and all of the different sounds she can make. Because of this, she’s listening constantly and picking up new words at a remarkable rate.  This also means that it is even more important for me to watch what I say as today one of those new words she picked up was “darn it!”

It continues to amaze me the words that she can say or very closely mimic.  We’re constantly asking her: “can you say…?” and have even turned it into a game with our son where he and I take turns asking her what different words she can repeat.  She is a great little copycat and really enjoys engaging with us in this way. Of course sometimes this leads to our son asking and teaching her words that his four year old brain thinks are silly like “poop”, but it also gets our whole family engaged in helping our daughter learn.

I’ve realized quickly that there’s no word I should assume she can’t say or attempt to mimic.  Her little brain is hardwired to hear and pick up sounds right now and so we are always talking with her, reading with her and encouraging her to keep using her voice.  Research has shown that a child’s vocabulary should be at about 5,000 words by the time they get to Kindergarten.  We haven’t started counting them one by one yet, but know that our daughter is well on her way. I can’t wait to hear what she’ll tell me next!

This is fatherhood…