If you bring your children up speaking more than one language, what is the most common reaction that you hear from other people? For me, it has always been, “Oh, how marvellous! Children are little sponges, aren’t they? They pick up languages so easily”. As a mother of an 11 year old and a 13 year old, it now takes all my strength to resist saying, “No. Children aren’t sponges, and bilingualism isn’t that easy”. Since I’m much too polite to say it, I’ll write about it, in the hope that it makes some people stop and think before enraging someone like me.
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My daughter comes home with a badge pinned to her school uniform: DEPUTY, it says in proud capital letters.
“I’m a deputy teacher”, she tells me. “Miss Jamieson* moved me to sit next to Jack and Max because they don’t behave and I do. It’s mostly the boys who don’t behave so we need to model good behaviour for them.”
She’s not wrong: it is the boys. “Boys will be boys”, they are told. It is the boys who talk during quiet time, wrestle when it comes time for silent reading, tear the art supplies and shout out at assembly. The girls’ learning is interrupted again and again while the teacher deals with their male companions. They are asked to change seats to calm the boys. They are asked to lay down their advanced reading books to help their male friends catch up.
Meanwhile, my daughter is proud of her role as gatekeeper. She stops what she’s doing to shush the boys when they get rowdy. She reports to me after school that Jack is sounding out longer words now, but she’s worried because Max had to sit in the quiet corner and maybe the teacher will take her coveted title away.
What is your parenting goal? One of mine is that my kids move out before they are 20 years old.
I’m only half joking when I write this. I don’t fear the Empty Nest Syndrome. While I adore my kids, I want them to live their own lives, and to get out and explore the world, in their own way. They’ve a while to go till then, so I’m building the foundations of their future, by ensuring that they have the necessary life skills to become independent adults.
We discussed this recently on our Facebook Group, and came up with a list of Life Skills for Kids
How should we speak to our children? A question that comes up again and again. Should we use baby talk, words like din-dins for a meal and so on, when they are very small? Should we simplify matters during their childhood and avoid longer words and certain types of vocabulary that we regard as more advanced and therefore more complicated? Is one word enough to convey a meaning, or should we use synonyms? Does dumbing down language for kids help or hinder their development?
Fed up cooking the same things week and week out? Our #SimpleTastes series by Asha Fowells aims to widen your repertoire, with quick and easy family meals. This week’s recipe is all about the leeks, so is eminently suitable for vegetarians, but if you have some leftover gammon, ham or cooked chicken, it beefs it up (if you’ll pardon the pun) and stretches it that bit further.
This is a question that my father would answer with the words, “How long is a piece of string”. There is no right age to start wearing makeup, but there is the age that is right for you and your daughter. The question is – are you in agreement?