Impact of social environment on our children

As most of you already probably know – I am not a big fan of pink. It turns out my daughter is. If it would be on her to choose, everything would be pink. Luckily my son is not a big fan of pink so I do not need to suffer from seeing their room painted in pink, since if they would agree they would probably end up in pink room and my eyes would hurt every time I would enter. Another thing – somehow, definitely not my influence, she has some specific fashion taste and knows well which colour go well together and which not. As you can imagine I get very criticised o daily basis for my fast suggestions on what she could dress that day, sth along lines : Mooom, that does not fit at all together! Oh, well what can I do, I just like as many colours as possible but seems I am really tasteless according to my three-year old professional.

But what shocked me lately was her replies to her brother what he can not do or be cause he is a boy. So apparently Miro can definitely not be a ballerina nor a princess (of course he claims it very often since he hears it often from her). And apparently her brother is too stupid to be a pilot since boys are stupid. what??? She has never heard that word from me, neither in any of the books she read there is a single note that boys are more stupid than girls. More shockingly this weekend they were playing mommy and daddy and Miro wanted to prepare dinner and Natalia forbid him cause apparently dads do not cook. It was kind of funny cause at that very moment my husband was preparing pancakes for breakfast. I asked her, but Natalia do you see that your dad cooks. She stopped for a second, and said Dads should not cook. I have no clue how or where my little girl picks up these conclusions, but I guess from her friends in KG. I still remember this summer when one boy approached her to play with and brought her various cars with which she was very happy, but then his sisters criticised him, something along the lines how could he bring her boy toys. She apparantely should not play with boy toys.

Woow, parenting journey is really tough, it is not only us parents who are raising our children but also all their friends, teacher, doctors, cousins.

I really hope I will manage to raise my kids that they can always have a different opinion and follow their dreamsūüėÄ

Wish luck to all my fellow parent warriors!!!

cof

Advertisements

Raising multilingual kids and some tips on acquiring all the languages and fun of playing sound games

We are so lucky to be parents living in the 21st century, with so much of scientific data easily available. Now, we know (by that I mean we have scientific evidence) how beneficial it is that the child is exposed to as many languages as possible. Previously, it was not so obvious¬†– I have lots of cousins spread around the globe who did not learn their mother tongue till their school years as parents were scared of confusing a child. They did not have cheap flights and could not travel so much. On the other hand in many arabic countries children speak three languages. In Kenya it is a common thing to meet a child who is fluent in three languages (swahili, english and the local tribe language), but for some reason people in Europe were scared of exposing their kids to “too many languages” during the last century. Raising multilingual children is challenging and about some of the challenges I wrote previously, but also very inspiring at the same time.

Maria Montessori was in every sense ahead of her times. Here I will cite few of her sentences relevant to raising of multilingual children:

The mother does not teach language to her little one. Language develops naturally as a spontaneous creation.”

Of a foreign tongue, we adults cannot even hear all the sounds, let alone reproduce them. We can only use the mechanism of our own language. Only the child can construct the mechanism of language, and he can speak any number of languages perfectly if they are in his environment.

Just like Maria said the most important is the exposure to the language. Children have such an amazing brains – they do not need any formal teachings of a foreign languages. Till recently I was almost exclusively reading to my kids in Croatian (meaning that all the books we would borrow from the library I would simultaneously translate from german into croatian) and my husband was reading in polish. In the day care and during meeting friends on daily basis they are exposed to german. Since they are regularly exposed to those three languages, actively and passively, they are quite confident in them (not to the same extent). Recently I have started reading to my daughter regularly in german and english the nursery rhymes and singing german and english songs and I could observe a huge explosion of vocabulary. Additionaly I could hear her “reading” those books to her brother in the language in which the book was written. Her english vocabulary is very small – it’s based on nursery rhymes and Softy the Poop book but it is there. Now I feel like laughing at myself for being so scared of reading to her in english (and german for that matter;). From our experience I can definitely say that the best first books to read in any language are nursery rhymes as the child gets the feeling of a language rhythm, rhymes and sounds much better than through reading traditional illustration books. In the photo below are some of our favorite nursery rhyme books:)

knjige.jpg

When my daughter turned 2,5 we started playing I spy with my little eye games, I did in croatian and my husband sometimes in polish. If you do not know what is I spy game and how it proceeds you can read on this blog post.¬† This game has many “levels”. The first level when you introduce it is usually when you hold or point into one object and then you say “I spy with my little eye something that starts with AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (u make the sound of A, not naming the letter) and wait for your child to name the object. It is lots of fun, my daughter loves to play this game in park, car, wherever. But, what I noticed when she comes from day care or after our meeting with german speaking friends sometimes she will be confused and say but Veronika says HHHHund not Pas, etc. So we try to play this game on evenings or weekends during our family trips. Ofcourse ideally I could choose the object that would start with the same letter in all four languages, but believe me it is almost impossible!! (unless the words are from the same origin, like many latin words, but then it’s no longer a fun game for mommy as I need to think too much:P)

Lately, what has been a huge hit in our home – were board books about various composer or their pieces with CD-s. This ones are not just fantastic for the language purposes, as the story is narrated by native speaker and music played by orchestra, but also for the practical life skills and sensory¬†skills. For example Natalia is absolutely in love with the book and cd of Peter and the wolf (all illustrations are realistic) and after one day she could put the CD herself in the CD player, adjust the volume and press play. After two days she started recognizing that the flute is the bird and in which parts of the music piece there is the bird (flute). She loves this story, she puts it now 3 times a day (do I have to mention that my german vocabulary increased as well thanks to her;)). Her brother dances with her on various music pieces and they have lots of fun together. Yesterday she even “read” this specific book to Miro and told him wait now it will be scary music Wolf is coming!

scdom

Enjoy the exciting journey with your kids!!!!

Let me know what are your favorite nursery books;)

Raising multilingul children and some of the challenges that come along

A child is exposed to language already in the mother’s womb and gets used¬† to the various sounds of the language it is exposed to, just like to the magnificent musical pieces. Neural connections that are formed within our brain during learning of a new language, are fascinating and¬† there is still a lot of unknown in that field. There is an interesting article published recently which shows that even if the child stops being exposed to its mother’s language as a baby, the neural patterns in the brain corresponding to that specific language still stay there for years later¬†http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/151201/ncomms10073/full/ncomms10073.html

Our children were exposed since their tummy time to four languages on the daily basis. At home they are exposed to mummy speaking croatian, daddy speaking polish and mum and dad speaking english (sometimes german) to each other during the day. Everywhere outside home (during play dates, day care, etc) they are exposed to german and sometimes english.

Is it hard? What are the challenges we encountered so far?

Yes, there are moments when it will be quite hard and very challenging. One of the challenges are people, close-minded people who can be found everywhere on our dear planet. Those individuals who do not like to hear when you speak some “weird” language to your child. Sometimes you might count on getting some funny looks or comments , but I find those are easy to ignore;) Also, if you have some of those individuals among your neighbours, like we have, who make fun when your child doesn’t have perfect “r” pronunciation in Gr√ľ√ü Gott¬†(in Austria it is a commonly used version of “hi”) they ll present you a challenge. Luckyly our daughter has a great sense of humour so she usually deals with those individuals in her own funny way (showing them funny faces, singing “Hallo song“, etc.). You could say for future – it is actually a great opportunity that your child learns how to deal with bullies.

What you should take into account is that your child will most probably start talking slightly later than its monolingual peers – but that completely makes sense. Your child is processing not only new words every day in one language but in 2, 3 or 4 languages at the same time. For example our daughter understood a lot of words with 10 months, but she starting saying with 14 months. But at the same time she started speaking croatian, polish and german (she understands some english but says just around 20 words in english). With very simple sentences she started with 22 months. And just recently she started using two verb sentences (mostly in croatian). So please do not compare your child to its peers, especially when it comes to complexity of used language – your kid has it much harder¬†(for a matter of case do not compare your children in any matter¬† – they are all so different (imagine how the world would be boring if they wouldn’t be;)).

A big challenge of using more than one language, in our case four languages on daily basis, is you will mix it up. So not only your child will make up sentences containing words from 4 different languages – you will as well;) Especially after dinner time, depending on the tiredness factor, both me and my husband can have very funny conversations in mixed language (cropolgernglish;) and not even notice it for some time (usually until Natalia joins in;).

If you are also getting ready for a journey of raising multilingual children, enjoy it, it will indeed be an exciting journey.

DSC_2629

Read with your kids, since they are babies. You may notice I wrote with, instead of to, it is for a good reason. Especially, when your child is still a baby or young toddler, they may not neccessary want to read all the book from front cover to the last. Follow their lead – read what they seem to be interested at, let them hold the book and turn pages. Sometimes your child will notice something on the drawing in the book that will remind him or her on something they experienced that day, something they saw on your last weekend walk through the woods, engage and use that opportunity to discuss with your child – do not force to follow the story in the book, follow the story of your child.¬†It helps a lot in expanding your child’s vocabulary. I am reading a lot to our kids various books in croatian, german and english.¬† And it is important you read also with your baby – a baby is never too small to enjoy the reading adventure. it can be short stories, poems – this is how you are opening them the language treasure box. You nourish their love for books in that way and teaching them to treat them with respect. There are some stories that Natalia already knows by heart so now she is “reading” them to her little brother:) Go with your kids to the local library, visit the children corner – let them choose the books they would like to borrow. Even if you can borrow from your library only books in one language, that should not stop you to read with your child in other languages you use on daily basis.

Enjoy!!!:=)

DSC_2640