Circle of Things

IMG_20160815_185742.jpgWhen I finally found time to go shopping this independence day long weekend, I decided to replace my son’s tattered play mat. Though it was not an easy to abandon this treasured belonging, I was quick to select a new one as it came in the bold and beautiful colours my 23 months old had learnt to recognise. Given his recent interest in puzzles, it did not surprise me when he wanted to try his hands at fixing the different pieces minutes after they were brought home. After an initial round of assembly, I encouraged him to dismantle all pieces with the objective of joining similar colours together as instead of teaching him alphabets I was more interested in reinforcing his learning of colours.
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When  I observed that he found greater pleasure in poking the round shapes out of the various alphabets (a,b,d,g i, j,o,p,q) with his fingers, I was quick to capitalize on the moment and introduced the concept of circles. Very soon he not only started pointing to circles of different colours, but also learnt the difference between a big and small one.

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Over the next three days we played the circle game again and again – lining all of them in the order of big to small from left to right and top to bottom, putting back the big and small circles in their respective holes, matching and rematching the colours of circles with the alphabet squares, aligning the rough and smooth circles with the respective surfaces. In the process, of course, he learnt a lot many new words and concepts. But what was more fun was hunting for big and small circles everywhere, in the wheels of car while going out, in the clocks of restaurant while lunching, in the jars of candy and plates of dinner at home, in the bindi of his nanny on her forehead and in the mole of  his mumma on the cheek. The moment of greatest joy however arrived when he pointed to the circle in the middle of the flag I had bought to teach him the Indian tri-colours.

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Two Steps Behind – From Adult Collection to Self Selection

As soon as my son learnt to take his first steps, I placed his books on low height tables, spread across the house, that his little hands reached out to for support. Like many other parents I had read of course that he will get more attracted to books if he could reach out on his own. While he was never motivated to pick his books from the tables despite continuous encouragement, he started selecting a book from mumma’s bookshelf when he learnt to take more confident steps. Seeing the joy he experienced while picking that book time and again, I was quick to displace all my books and line up all his on that particular shelf.

IMG_20160723_213255Ever since I replaced my adult collection it has been interesting to observe the process of self selection. While initially he was attracted to green coloured books as green was his favourite colour, he soon started picking up books from Dr. Suess’ bright and early board book collection as his colour knowledge expanded. Over time I noticed that instead of picking one book at a time, he would always select collection of books from the same series.  Even when they were not placed next to each other, lining them up vertically made it easier for the eye to discern the ones similar in colours, shapes, or sizes.

Observing this process for more than a month, I also realised that his tiny hands were never attracted to bigger books, perhaps because the books are placed in an order of  big to small making it easier to access the smaller ones towards the middle and the right. I am soon going to break the adult logic of categorization and mix up bigger books with smaller ones in a random order to encourage him to read a wider variety of books. The joy that I experience every evening standing two steps behind observing how my son selects his books to read is much more than the pleasure I felt watching him take his first steps.