Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

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.

Bones of the Zebra

In Wit on 17 October 2012 at 8:04 pm
Kids Just Say the Darnedest Things
Baba Dushyant from Virginia shares this tale of discovering the bones of the zebra with his 2 year old daughter Rewa.
Baba: X for X:ray, while pointing at picture of an X-Ray
Rewa: What is this? Pointing at the Skeleton image (a.k.a. X ray)
Baba: This is an X-Ray
Rewa: What is this? Baba
Baba:  [Explain in detail what are bones and then explain X Ray is like a special picture of our bones.   After y.. we get to Z quickly]
Baba: Z for Zebra, pointing at a Zebra picture
Rewa: Pointing at the black and white stripes: “Zebra has so many bones.. Is this an x ray?”

Raising a multilingual baby

In How on 5 September 2012 at 10:17 pm
Since babies learn languages easily, I want to fill my home with languages.  My husband and I speak three languages, and I thought we could add one more, and find a friend to come over and speak a fifth one – probably Chinese since that is so important globally.  Do you think learning 5 languages will be too confusing?

  ~ expectant mother in Cambridge

Babies learn easily because they learn by doing.  They will learn language from someone who is speaking the language, over one who is teaching it.  After all, if it were useful, would it need to be taught?  Remember that babies also make up language from scratch as if no one had ever done it before, and this bushwhacking through the jungle of sound and sense is an adventure of a lifetime.  
If the baby’s environment comprises people using various languages then just as with any other interesting object, baby will pick them up and put them in her mouth.  Since English is everywhere, I would urge you to speak your other native language(s) at home.  
Little multilingual speakers seem to know which language is which.  My parents tell a story about me translating English for Telugu visitors, not realizing that they too were multilingual. 
In our family we spoke only Telugu when my daughter was young.  Once she learned to read, English leapt ahead.  Why?  Children’s books with simple words in large print, and computer fonts in all sizes were abundant in English but not in Telugu.  All that has changed today.  All the languages you speak can go with you when you enter the written world.

Baby Sign Language

In How on 5 September 2012 at 10:16 pm

What do you think of baby sign language? Will it delay our baby’s ability to learn to speak?
– expectant parents in Cambridge

What most encourages a baby to speak is to be heard. Nonverbal communication precedes verbal and continues right along with it. Facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures let us know what our baby considers to be worth telling us and help us to become good listeners.

In early months, you may notice squirms, muscle tension/ relaxation or facial expressions that your baby makes before relieving herself, or when hungry or sleepy or wanting to go outside. Around 8 months we noticed that after completing any task, our daughter rotated her hand. We picked up these signs, devised our own for such common requests as water or open, and also used some ASL signs. She continued to dabble in ASL long after she started speaking.

See also: Steve McCurry, To Be Human,
Look how people talk with their hands in Tibet, Lebanon, Yemen, Lebanon, France, Kashmir, France, Thailand, Turkey

Do your kids forget what they read?

In Books, Yes / No on 23 August 2012 at 3:49 am

I was wondering whether this problem is with my own kids or is it more generic. We keep forgetting what we learned few months back, especially in science. We did periodic table quite thoroughly maybe 8 months back, now we can only remember a few things. Of course if we quickly brush the topic we will probably recollect them. My kids say there is so much to remember in science, how are they supposed to remember?  Is this something to be concerned about or am I being just paranoid?

– mother of two from Bangalore

Just to get it out of the way, let us start with the counter-question, Do you forget what you read? If not, do share your techniques. Who among us would not like to improve our memory?

When you ask whether you are paranoid, I guess you are wondering whether your children’s rate of forgetting is average or above? Perhaps you would be interested in this article: Knowledge Taught in School: What is Remembered?  The author quotes Harry Bahrick, who found that “much of the information acquired in classrooms is lost soon after final examinations are taken.”  I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone. While school teaching methods have undergone various changes in the decades since Professor Bahrick did his study, to the extent that classtime is devoted to exam-prep, this conclusion would probably still hold. Read the rest of this entry »

Intellectual Stimuli in Two Minutes

In What on 23 August 2012 at 3:32 am
 After becoming a mother I just seem not to have time to read anything more substantial than ingredients lists and blog posts.  I miss my college days, I can’t access the online journals anymore, and rarely get to read anything that gives me the same surge of intellectual excitement. 
– Mama, no longer in the Ivory Tower
Amma feels your pain.  Fortunately, the precious balm is at hand.  PhD students around the world have given a wonderful gift to busy people who thirst for quick fixes of academic thought bubbles, with the encouragement of Jorge Cham, cartoonist behind PhD Comics.  Here is a treasure trove of newly minted and in-progress dissertation research explained in two minutes!  Browse the list and hear about a variety of topics being pursued in Universities from Sorbonne to Slovenia, Tehran to Toledo.  It is amazing!  Almost better than being there at the defense itself (Ah … nostalgia!) Read the rest of this entry »

Cogito Ergo

In Why on 23 August 2012 at 3:30 am
My son doesn’t finish his schoolwork within the given time.  Why? 
From the archives of our young friend Sahith, we find this observation he made at age 6, regarding something that happened at school:
I think and that is why I am afraid I run out of time.

His Amma generously shares his wit and witticisms with the world at 5 … going on 12.

Losing Patience

In How on 3 July 2012 at 8:10 pm

I feel I am often losing my patience these days. I end up raising my voice, or at least having that tone of anger, admonishing, or worse, I fall into the popular trap of bribing her with something to take her away from something else.

Right after I have talked to my daughter in a harsh tone, I often give her a hug, say sorry, and explain, but that is still not where I want to be.

– Mom of a 3 year old in Texas

To get where we want to be as parents, there are a number of good sources of help. You will get there. I will get there. Along the way there will be times we wish we could go back and do differently, or more likely DO NOTHING (in capital letters). Those moments hold the potential to be our best teachers. Read the rest of this entry »


In Wit on 26 May 2012 at 12:57 am

Kids Just Say the Darnedest Things!

Sunitha from Seattle shares these words of wisdom from her 8 year old son Sahith:

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.

Amma salutes young Sahith’s clarity as well as his Amma’s readiness to share these compassionate words with all of us.

%d bloggers like this: