Does your family use more than one language? Or does your child speak a different language at school from the one spoken at home? This is the first in a series of three posts by Millie Slavidou – today looking at 7 good reasons to raise your kids bilingual.
In the past, bilingualism was often discouraged, and parents were advised to use only one language with their children. Non-native speaker parents would be encouraged to use what was for them a foreign language to communicate with their children. An awkward and false situation, especially for parents without a strong grasp on the dominant community language.
These days, things have changed. Studies have proved that bilingualism is not only possible, but beneficial. Children can easily cope with more than one native language and soon learn to sort out which vocabulary and grammar structures belong to which language.
When a friend recently talked about ‘Gentle Parenting’, or parenting without punishments or rewards, I will admit to first having to look up the term, and second thinking that can’t possibly work.
After reading the list on this blog, I realised that I’d been practicing a version of this parenting philosophy, without knowing there was a name for it. There is no blueprint for successful parenting, and I wouldn’t say that I am an expert, but these are the tactics that have worked for me, and my family.
No, you aren’t imagining it. It really is harder to make friends when you get older. When I look back at my teens and twenties, there was always someone to go out with, friends to meet for lunch. Even later, after the birth of my kids, I had plenty of friends. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I would sit outside the house with my neighbours, drinking tea and chatting while the children played in the communal courtyard. At some point though, after the third house move, it got more difficult. And I’m not alone in this.
The third in our series on bilingualism by Millie Slavidou deals with bilingualism and special needs. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them here – 7 Reasons to Bring up Your Kids Bilingual and Supporting Bilingualism in Tweens and Teens.
Parents of children with special needs frequently find they need to grow a thick skin to deal with all the ignorance and comments directed at them, and this is especially true in a bilingual family. As a mother of a child with special needs myself, bringing him up in a bilingual family has been a challenge. I have been accused of deliberately trying to sabotage his development through speaking my own language to him!
“If you don’t eat your meat, you won’t get any pudding”, might have worked for Pink Floyd, but if your child is a fussy eater, you’ll know [stubborn face] when you see it!
In developing countries, the longer girls stay in school, the rosier their future. When girls are educated, they tend to marry later and have fewer children, which improves their chances of surviving childbirth. They are more likely to be able to work, and generate income for their families, and their children are healthier, and more likely to go to school. The knock-on effects of longer schooling for girls is felt by the entire community.
The recently released results of a Kenyan study on menstrual cups and girls’ education show just one of many ways to help girls stay in school.