Communicating Partners/Play to Talk approach is like MAGIC. You need to hear this story. Grab a drink, it is long.
It started out so simply.
A few days ago, Daddy bought J-man a Buzz Lightyear Blaster (aka 'the gun'). Now, let me just say I am not a huge fan of toy guns and this is honestly the first one J-man has had. But it lights up and shoots foam darts, so J-man thinks it cool. Whatca gonna do? Apparently it is in those boy genes. He can't actually fire the darts yet, and it lights up and make "pew-pew" shooting noises.
Yesterday, J-man found a old Word World Duck. Without the K. The letters stick together with magnets to form the duck/word.
He shot at the Duc. With the gun.
Now, you have to know that J-man hasn't really understood what the gun IS. It makes noises and shoots foam darts. But not people, or Duc-s. And to be totally honest, I am not 100% sure that it was intentional (there is a story here too... just wait). But that didn't matter, because I made a split decision on my response..
The Duc 'fell from the sky and landed in a dramatic fashion on the floor, breaking apart into D-U-C parts'.
J-man looked surprised. Intrigued. I put the Duc pack together (hastily) and made the Duc start to fly. I said "shoot it!!". He shot again. And again, and again. I switched it up, fixing the Duc, giving it to him and taking the gun. J-man protested (he likes the gun) but then I shot the Duc. It took him a second or two, but then he had the Duc fall down from the sky in a J-man-like-dramatic fashion, breaking apart into D-U-C parts.
J-man grabbed the gun away from me and while I was trying to reassemble the Duc, pulled the trigger. So then I fell down in a dramatic fashion, groaning and making "you got me" noises. Much hilarity ensued. We did this over and over, Duc and Mommy dying repeatedly dramatic deaths. I called Daddy up. Soon, he was also dying in a dramatic fashion on the floor.
Then I managed to sneak the gun from him (sly mommy) and shot the J-man.
Who fell on the floor in a dramatic fashion, making his own groaning noises.
Back and forth we did this.... honestly, probably 25 + minutes.
J-man was playing with us. J-man was turn-taking with joy and glee. J-man wanted to keep the party rolling.
And in the last 5 minutes of this play, spontaneously, with no prompting done or needed, he started talking to us.
"My turn" "More please" "Shoot" "Your Turn" "Duc"
Commanding us to continue!!!
Are you excited yet?! Freaking out?! Well, oh, it gets better.
The chattering continued all night. Not all words, or words we could understand, but intentional directed vocalizations to us. Lots of requesting for interaction. We responded with intention, even those things that didn't sound like words. We treated them like words. And then later that evening, J-man brought me the k-less Duc again, the gun in his hand. Our new game continued!!! Willingly and child-lead, with no persuasion on our part, no "forced interaction", no pressure to perform.
This is the true beauty of the Communicating Partners approach. Before, I might have pressured J-man to say words for the events: "Say Duc... Say gun... Say my turn". I might have made my participation conditional on his talking, or turn taking, or interacting in a way that I required. I might have made him give up the gun before he was ready, before the game and the interaction had more value than keeping the gun. And he would have been gone.
But I didn't. I was patient. I didn't have a GOAL in mind. We just let it happen, scaffolding new ideas when he seemed open to them, and let it evolve. And we had fun. The kind of fun you cry about later.
I tried to capture some of it on video, but all I got was this little piece. (I swear, we should just wire up the house Big Brother style)
Oh, and the last bit of the story? Remember how I said that I didn't know if J-man intentionally shot the k-less Duc? Well, get this. Two days ago I bought Disney's Beauty and the Beast. We watched it yesterday morning during breakfast. He loved it, even tho there are some pretty scary parts. And last night, after bath, and before bed, he asked for "beest". So we sat down and watched the first 10 minutes of the show. And in that 10 minutes, Gaston (handsome bad dude) shot a duck!!!
So anyone who thinks J-man isn't paying attention, or able to process, generalize, and reapply concepts to different situations: Think again.
(And yes, we are going to have to really watch what he is watching now)