rosefox: An extremely delighted white toddler with messy hair beams at the camera. (kit)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2017-03-01 01:41 am

"Obvious in retrospect"

Porting two baby-related threads over from Twitter.

Kid things I had no idea about, but that totally make sense now: a short list.

1) When you teach a toddler some sign language, they will babble with their hands. Eye contact, big hopeful smile, incomprehensible hand motion. "Does this gesture mean anything? What about this?"

2) They will also come up with their own meanings for signs. We're pretty sure Kit signs "milk" to mean "I want".

3) Kids wrestling with object permanence and separation anxiety will apply it to EVERYTHING, like the end of a story. When we close a book, Kit looks worried until we show them that the story is still there when we open it up again.

4) The eye-contact look that will soon be "I'm doing a naughty thing" starts out as "I'm doing a thing that makes me happy"—maybe more specifically as "Will you come be happy with me as I do this thing that makes me happy?". It's so hopeful. And I can clearly see the seeds of "You AREN'T going to be happy that I'm doing this thing that makes me happy" in it.

5) So many things we think of as obvious delimiters are invisible to children. Social, not physical. Like "draw on paper, not table". To a kid with a marker, every surface is a surface that can have marker on it. I was in awe the other day watching Kit very carefully draw a line across the paper, over the clipboard, and onto the table. One line, no hesitation. It wasn't a transgressive thing. It was just where they were making their art. No differentiation between media whatsoever.

They also don't readily perceive verbal delimiters. Sound, word, and phrase are all one concept to them. When J says "turn the page" or I say "clap your hands" Kit understands those as whole concepts, like spoken pictograms. If I said "clap your feet" they'd be puzzled because "clap" as a verb doesn't exist for them yet.

I remember [ profile] oaknfell saying that teaching a kid to read is one long process of apologizing for the English language. Pretty sure teaching Kit to talk is going to involve a round of that too.

I get the phonics thing now—the struggle to explain to children that "clap your hands" has spaces in it, that "clap" itself is "c l a p". If you only hear language, those divisions are in no way intuitive.

An appallingly adorable baby anecdote

We have a blanket that has a hood. The hood has ears and a little bear face. It is very cute. Today X and I were curious about Kit's object permanence and had that blanket over them in the stroller, so we hid one of their hands in the hood.

"Kit, where's your hand? Where's your hand?" They didn't care. Too many other things to look at out in the world. So I tapped their right hand, which was on top of the blanket. "There's your right hand. Where's your other hand?"

They looked at the hood over their hand and immediately decided it was a NEW BEAR FRIEND.

They reached out with their right forefinger and booped its nose—I am not making this up, this really happened—and then they brought it to their face and face-hugged it. They were so happy. "The bear ate my hand and now I have a BEAR FRIEND HAND and everything is GREAT."

They did not appear concerned about their missing hand at all. Who cares when there is a fuzzy bear face to press your face against?

X and I could hardly walk for laughing. Kit happily hugged the bear friend all the way home.

I must get this child some hand puppets. It will be epic.
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)

[personal profile] gingicat 2017-03-01 11:05 am (UTC)(link)
You could also try washable marker to draw faces on their fingers!

There was an absolutely amazing PBS television show called Between the Lions when boychik was a toddler and preschooler (and girlochka a toddler). I'm convinced that it modeled reading. I know DVDs are available through Netflix.
donutsweeper: (Default)

[personal profile] donutsweeper 2017-03-01 03:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Awww that bear hand story is adorable.

I remember when my daughter was about that age "milk" meant anything drink or food-wise, a general hungry sign I guess. Kids are clever that way I guess.
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)

[personal profile] sorcyress 2017-03-01 11:45 pm (UTC)(link)
The beast I nanny for had a phase (before she suddenly turned on the talking in a big way at about 20-21 months) where her milk sign meant "milk and/or cuddles". There were at least a few awkward rounds of "I'm sorry kiddo, but I literally cannot give you what you are asking for" before I started asking "do you want a hug/cuddle" when she signed milk.


[identity profile] 2017-03-02 11:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I think kids usually have a pretty good handle on word divisions by the time they start reading, but yeah, early on, they often learn a phrase as if it were a word ("All done," that kind of thing). But it's amazing how soon they can come up with a simplified phrasing that isn't a mirror of what they've heard, and does include manipulating separate words. (I remember my youngest triumphantly announcing "I all fix it!", where "fix it" might have been learned as a unit, but the placement of "all" as a separate word was original.) That said, an occasional word will get by: one classic exchange between my kids was "Stop intering up!" -- "You mean erupting." And once my brother, when sternly told "Behave!", burst into tears and wailed, "I am being hayve!"

[identity profile] 2017-03-01 01:35 pm (UTC)(link)
On learning to read: I can attest that reading stories over and over, and following the words with your finger as you read them will actually make a great deal of it intuitive. Kids (who don't come with wiring issues) will already be spotting familiar patterns in beloved stories, and sussing out that 'clap' in one story looks just like 'clap' in another story, etc. Thus getting you over the hump with a great deal of English language's willful contradictions and absurdities.
ext_45721: Rabbit lying on a couch, reading large, antique book of Poe. (Bookish!)

[identity profile] 2017-03-01 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep, these things. All of these things.

[identity profile] 2017-03-01 06:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Yay, bear hand friend!

Adults learning a new language aural/oral have the same difficulty with word delimiters. I testify. :D

[identity profile] 2017-03-02 11:43 am (UTC)(link)
Hello, friend!

When Chun Woo was three and we needed to wait in public places, I often made my hands into wandering creatures. Chun Woo called this game "Friend," and often asked for it.
dpolicar: (Default)

[personal profile] dpolicar 2017-03-02 02:22 pm (UTC)(link)
The bear thing is appallingly adorable. :)

WRT perceiving verbal delimiters... this also can stay true for a long time even for native languages.

Spanish is my first language, but I learned it at home and never really learned to read or write Spanish. I mean, I can do it, by sounding out written words letter-by-letter and then recognizing what word that is by the sound I make, but it's really not the same as being literate. And relatedly, there's all sorts of Spanish phrases I thought were one word well into adulthood. There undoubtedly still are.

[identity profile] 2017-03-02 04:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I did love this phase. Knowing some signs really helped understand some of Quatlet and Quatling's first words - "ISH!" plus frenzied vertical flappy hand = FISH, Da' with duck-beak action = DUCK, with fingers hitting each other = Dadda.
And suddedly nursery rhymes and songs become SO MUCH FUN!

[identity profile] 2017-03-02 08:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Bear hand friend is adorable!

In the preschool I used to work at (ages 1-3) we often sang a song with our hands behind our back going "My hands have disappeared, I have no hands anymore - oh, wait here my hands are again - tra la la la la la la la la hurrah!"
Rinse and repeated for nose, eyes, ears, mouth, feet, whatever you want to disappear. :)

[identity profile] 2017-03-05 06:58 pm (UTC)(link)
And they love it! Once Kit is older you can ask "what shall we disappear next?"