Honing Skills

Roman has started to show the first signs of communication, more than smiling when he’s happy and crying when something is amiss. He gets upset when we tell him no in stern voices–usually when he crawls to forbidden territory. The other night, when he was the other side of the room I called to him: “Hey Roman, come see me,” and he did!

We’re trying to understand what he’s trying to tell us, but it isn’t entirely easy. Our first goal is to teach him basic baby signs, starting with more, which is made by touching the fingers together. For a baby, this is very similar to something else he’s learning: how to clap. As a result when we get to the end of a mealtime and pause to ask if he wants more, it’s hard to know whether he’s asking for more or just clapping because he’s happy to have so much yummy food in his tummy.

Elena has also suddenly demonstrated a new skill that we don’t entirely understand. Grandma, who still regularly brings out new things for Elena to play with, opened up some jigsaw puzzles. Elena rather quickly figured out how to put them together with very little assistance. While helping her put one together I observed carefully, hoping to figure out her puzzle solving cues and algorithms. Did she use the pictures or the puzzle shapes? Did she work from the middle out, or from the borders in (as most of us do)?

I couldn’t figure it out. Her piece selection seemed also random, but somehow the puzzle came together quickly. She had put this one together several times before, and that meant that she put on a show for me, pretending to put pieces where they obviously didn’t belong, obfuscating her general strategy. But Jenny’s been watching too, and she can’t figure it out either. Maybe we need to challenge her more–these puzzles only have about 25 pieces–in order to learn her secrets.

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