Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Slow Learning

In How on 22 March 2020 at 2:05 pm

Dear readers, With schools around the world closing to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many are seeking to understand the dynamics of learning at home.  Here is an article I wrote when my daughter was 9, years before her first day of school.  Were we homeschooling?  Unschooling?  I liked to call it slow learning.


We often ask, what is learning? Now let us ask, what is slow learning?

1. Slow

In Space and Time in Classical Mechanics, Einstein asks to imagine that he has dropped a stone while in a moving train.  As it happens he asks us to imagine that he has dropped it outside the train, from the window, as the train movedi.

Inside a moving train, if we drop a stone we will see it fall down in a straight, vertical line.  If we are inside the moving train but drop the stone outside the train, we will see the same thing.  To the falling stone, once released from Einstein’s (or anyone’s) hand, it makes no difference whether it is inside or outside the train. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to read Indian languages

In Books, How on 14 March 2015 at 3:00 am

How can our children learn to read in Indian languages?  Where do we find children’s literature in our native languages?

Many Ask Amma readers who are well-versed in several languages would like their children to grow up with them as well.  As some of us know, being children of multilingual parents, if we live in predominantly monolingual environments there is a risk of losing touch with our multilingual and cultural heritage and with the wit and wisdom expressed in particular languages.  If we speak these languages every day then our children grow up understanding them but what about reading and writing?

Prasanna Rakshasadu (The Peaceful Rakshasa).   Fun topic and font make a difference for beginning readers.

Prasanna Rakshasadu (The Peaceful Rakshasa). Fun topic and font make a difference for beginning readers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Early chapter books?

In Books on 26 November 2014 at 8:00 pm

magic tree houseMy daughter loves The Magic Tree House books and has finished more than half of them.   She will probably finish the rest by the end of the year and we will have to find more books for her.  What do you think about the Boxcar Children?

– Mama of a 6 year-old in Dallas

There are number of mystery series designed to satisfy the growing appetite of the newly fluent reader – The Boxcar Children, Secret Seven, Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown and many more.  Some people worry that the stories are repetitive or overly simplistic.  Others rejoin, “well as long as they are reading …”  I beg to differ.  Even if a child is a beginning or struggling reader, I don’t think we need to settle for literature of low quality just because it is easy to read.  Such material may even put readers off.  This is one reason teachers like Gertrude Chandler Warner, author of the Boxcar Children, sought to write interesting stories for young readers, in contrast to what was provided in school textbooks. Read the rest of this entry »

Children’s Books by Indian Authors

In Books on 7 April 2014 at 5:33 am
Theatrical adaptation of Suniti Namjoshi's Aditi Adventures by Jagriti.

Theatrical adaptation of Suniti Namjoshi’s Aditi Adventures by Jagriti.

Picking up from my earlier Books for Baby by Indian Authors, as my daughter has grown she has introduced me to many more wonderful books for children by Indian Authors.   Unfortunately not all of them are in print so we’ve had to grab them whenever we could and are still searching for some of the items in the series that we have started.

Subhadra Sengupta's Historical Fiction

Subhadra Sengupta’s Historical Fiction

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning from Failure

In What on 19 March 2014 at 6:22 am

An Amma recently told me, by way of commenting on an AskAmma post that she felt like a “failure” because she had not done certain things the way not she would have liked to.

This got me thinking about the role of failure.

First, let me quote an astute AskAmma contributor, 8 year old Sahith, who told his mother, when he was 8 years old,

Amma, you know what would be a good exercise for you?
For five hours, you let me make as many mistakes as I want
and you sit and just watch without saying anything.

From “Mistakes

Second let me quote a science textbook I recently got. Read the rest of this entry »

Children Learn What They Live

In Poems on 29 December 2013 at 4:06 am

Dorothy L LawIn 2014 it will be 60 years since the poem “Children Learn what they Live” appeared in the Torrance Herald, a local newspaper (tell the kids what a local newspaper is).   The author, Dorothy Louise Law, a “counselor, lecturer, instructor in family life education,” wrote an advice column in the paper.

Growing up, I used to pause before a small paper posted our refrigerator.  The title was “Children Learn What They Live.”   Never wondering who wrote it or how it got there, I used to ponder some of its logical propositions.   Read the rest of this entry »

India Homeschoolers Conference 2014

In News & Notes on 25 December 2013 at 8:00 pm

Indian Homeschoolers Conference 2014

Families gathered at the India Homeschoolers Conference in Khandala 2013

Families gathered at the India Homeschoolers Conference in Khandala 2013

The much awaited second Indian Homeschoolers Conference (IHC ’14) is here – a gathering of like minded souls at Khandala to share their experiences, learn from each other and rejoice the company of the amazing homeschooling community.

If you have not been to the conference before and want to know more about the experience please read last years report – Reflecting back at the Indian Homeschoolers Conference!.  Two more articles are Khandala and the Yule-tide Spirit and First All India Homeschool Conference.  Read the rest of this entry »

How children learn to eat

In How on 23 July 2013 at 4:00 am

How often do we hear that children won’t eat?  No one loves this message more than the food industry, which is ready to jump in with factory-tested flavours and bliss points, adding salt, fat and sugar, flavor, color and stabilizer in indsutrially calibrated quantities to design foods that hold mass appeal.  “Kids today don’t eat food!” declares an advertisement for a popular packaged meal.   On the screen we see a child pushing away a plate of vegetables, dal and roti and brightening up considerably when the packaged bliss comes forth in steaming digitally enhanced ringlets.

How often have we seen parents or grandparents run behind a child with a bowl of food or hire someone to perform this task?   Read the rest of this entry »

The Play School Dilemma

In How on 16 July 2013 at 3:58 pm

My son is 18 months old. I work as a free lance consultant and have a good support system at home. My husband and I have been thinking about playschool as our son loves physical activity and exploring new things and also interacting with other children.

What are your thoughts on play schools, the appropriate ages, what to look for in a good play school, its teachers etc?

Mama from Delhi

The neighbourhood is the appropriate place for an 18-month-old or really for any child who is looking for physical activity, new things to explore, and interaction with children outside the home.  Also the wide world beyond offers many attractions, but do not forget that there is much to explore locally, even within a kilometre radius as well. Read the rest of this entry »

First Bicycle

In How on 17 October 2012 at 8:06 pm
What bicycle should I get for my grandson?
– Ajoba of a 4-year old in Pune
After learning the hard way, Amma is happy to recommend the bicycle without pedals for our littlest cyclists.  Training wheels, in her experience, hindered rather than helped the process of building balance and coordination.  The balance bike lets one learn these skills without the constraint of pedaling.  One can also use a regular bicycle as if it were a balance bicycle; simply ignore the pedals.  Or remove the pedals – as shown here:
Or get one from the store.  Mothering reviews the Strider.
%d bloggers like this: