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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

320              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

Afterwards, however, great progress was made. These later
experiences almost confine those amazing miracles of children of
4 years of age who exploded into writing, to a surpassed epoch.
The progress of the children has become even more precocious,
the methods more quick and efficient in their success, the interest
of the children is even intenser than before.

If one were to affirm all of a sudden that children under two
years old are able to recognize more than twenty letters of the
alphabet, and possess from 500 to 600 words, that at three years
of age they begin to study grammar and to read, one would give
an impression of utter unreality (it would seem a miracle). It
would create the same stir and would draw the same attention as
that which struck the learned world forty years ago when the
children of San Lorenzo presented a new phenomenon.

A new book is certainly necessary to describe these subse-
quent achievements; here, however, we wish merely to mention
them. Our attention was drawn to younger children, i.e. children
from birth to three years of age. It is precisely in that epoch that
the spoken language is naturally developed, it makes its first appear-
ance at about two years of age. Spoken language follows certain
rules in its development and the subsequent acquisitions are made
in what could be called a * grammatical' order. This has been
observed and recorded for the first time by Stern and subsequently
by various other people interested in psychological observation.

The child begins to know nouns which refer to objects, and
then words that refer to their qualities (adjectives), lastly preposi-
tions (concerning the relative position of the objects) and conjunc-
tions (which represent the conjunction of the objects). Briefly,
there is in the first development a representation of things in the
environment. It is a curious fact, however, that a few months
before the age of two years words come out of the child as in an
explosion of spoken language; and verbs, the exact forms of nouns
and adjectives with their prefixes and suffixes; and finally the dis-
tinction (and conjugation) of verbal forms regarding the present,
past and future tense, and pronouns are used.