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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baby Signs

"Moaa" and "Aa gone" ("more, "all gone") were the two frequently used words that Ana learnt to sign first successfully, back when she was about one year old.

Since then she has signed to indicate "more", "milk", "eat" and "all gone" consistently till she turned about two, at which point she finally decided she will speak mostly in English with me and in school, and a little Welsh with D and not worry about signing. So, I backed off a little from teaching her other signs.

Now that Ana is home a lot as we can't afford to send her to full time daycare with me on unpaid maternity leave, (I know, I know... I harp on this unpaid maternity leave a lot here as it is a sore point for me - not sure why I expect my employer to pay me to have a baby, but, looking at my friends in Germany, I feel society here is not set up to support families at all, and we lament the degradation of family values... anyway, that rant is for another day)...

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, so, Ana is home a lot, and I wanted to do something useful with her whenever I can manage, especially since my parents have been here to help with Oggie.

We've been working on counting and addition. Ana gets the concept but is still too young to do anything profound with it, so, I don't push it. We do simple everyday counting, like,
"How many beans do you have on your plate, Ana?"
"1...2...3...4...5...6... Six, Amma! I have six beans."
"Good job, that's right, Ana! Now, I give you one more from my plate, how many do you have in your plate now, Ana?"
"1...2...3...4...5...6...7... Saban, Amma! I have saban beans."
"That's right! you have seven. Now, I eat up two beans from your plate; how many do you have in your plate, Ana?"
"1...2...3...4...5... Five, Amma."

By which time she is bored and I've given her a simple enough lesson at lunch:) And I wait for another opportunity to do the same...

baby signs

And then, a few weeks ago, I decided to pick up on International Sign Language again with Ana. Early Sunday mornings there is a PBS show which teaches signs that I let Ana watch. I am too groggy, so, I sit on the rocking chair with Oggie, and park Ana in front of the TV and try to savor the quiet morning with the two kids, when everybody else is asleep.

While I am at it, I want to mention another PBS show: on weekday mornings I let Ana watch this TV show on PBS called Super Why which I think is one of the better programming to come out in ages - it teaches reading - and Ana has taken to it wildly. She shouts out the super letters when asked in the show, and manages to say the words when they are spelled out - by rote, of course - she still can't quite read: there are only a handful of Super Why episodes and she has seen them all, so, when they are rerun, she just remembers and chimes in :)

Okay, I digressed, but, Super Why was worth mentioning... anyway, so, I borrowed a few baby signs books and have been working with Ana to learn the various signs for common words in daily life. So far our sign vocabulary has expanded to:

It Hurts

Some of the signs are a bit strange to me. For instance, "Hurt" is indicated by tapping the two index fingers pointing to where it hurts. And, I used to wonder how we can indicate if it hurts at the elbow or at the finger... then, of course, we can use the "pain" sign, or even spell "hurt" (as a lexicalized version)...

When Ana randomly comes up to me or D and states, "Appa, you are on the head", or "Amma you are on the chin", it makes us automatically flash a knowing smile: sign for "Mother" is by placing the thumb of your right hand against the chin, and for "Father" is by placing the thumb of your right hand against the forehead.

Well, am not sure how long I can keep this up... especially since my parents are leaving in about a month or so and I will have to relive all the guilt I felt with sending Ana to daycare from when she was only 6 months old... Oh well. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

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At 6:52 PM, Blogger Sandeepa said...

Super Why is really good. I like it too.
Doe Ana play a little on the computer ? If she does give her some minutes on A wonderful site I felt, improved S's reading skills a lot

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Poppins said...

Sheila a Q: Why would you teach Ana the sign language now that she can talk? I'm not challenging, merely curious. Is there any advantage to signing even after the speaking has arrived?

I am so with you on your take on why the government must pay for maternity leave.

6 weeks is just too ridiculous. How on earth does the state expect a woman to have worked until the last day, then delivered and recovered in 6 weeks, leave her infection prone infant at daycare and happily report to work is beyond my comprehension.

I know you mustve checked out all your options, but couldn't you get some kind of paid leave, there must be some provision in the FMLA? Atleast 60% of your pay? Sweden I hear offers a woman 9 months of maternity leave !

At 3:09 AM, Blogger Subhashree said...

Sheela, you are doing a great job. At this age, you teach Ana anything and she is going to pick up like crazy. And you are keeping her engaged through the boring afternoons. Don't worry about the no-pay maternity leave. You'll find a way that will work for you like how youfound one when you had Ana. Hang in there. Hugs.


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Sandeepa, ya, Ana plays around a bit on the laptop, mostly with D... haven't got her to yet - D and I just write out on her whiteboard when we teach her c-a-t "cat" and b-a-t "bat" sounding out the letters, and writing or drawing out numbers - and she loves it for now...

Poppins, nope, no provision in FMLA - the law simply guarantees that in my absence, the employer cannot hire someone else, and it is 12 weeks from the birth of the child, to be taken consecutively within 12 month period from birth...

and, yes, i see your point about sign lang - i even mentioned it about a year ago or so in my post wondering if i'll keep it up then... my main reason now is sort of two-fold, nothing profound: (a) she seems to enjoy it a lot and it helps with her dexterity - it was fun to see her trying to do the airplane sign - trying for days before she could get the right fingers to stay folded and the others extended and when she could finally do it, the triumph in her face was adorable:) (b)just like Welsh and Tamil, it is another "language" she seems to enjoy learning and who knows? at some point it might interest her enough to take up summer jobs as newscaster for the hearing impaired or something...

Nisha, thanks for the comforting words... isn't it strange that whereas my mom didn't worry about letting us "run wild" till we went to KG, I am so worried about teaching Ana a bunch of stuff, worried that if I don't do all i can then she will lose out on this ever-competitive world she is forced to grow up in? nothing is simplistic anymore and mommies are tricked into possibly misguidedly thinking that if they don't make the extra effort, somehow they are depriving their children of a successful future- although, not sure what "successful" really is...

gosh! am ranting - will save it for another post :)

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Subhashree said...

Sheela, I think it is more of our restlessness than anything else. Kids do pick up once they grow by assimilating info from their environment and they kind of get into the groove of what is the in thing then. At least we can rest assured that what we teach them now might come handy in a totally diff situation in later times. So what you teach the kid now is good becos this is when she'll patiently listen to you and probably think 'wow my mom knows so many things'. Come teenage and we might not figure in their hotlist. So make hay when the sun shines :)



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