FAQ: Raising Bilingual Children
Why want bilingual children? There are many reasons, but the two most common are: 1) The parents speak different languages (say, an American woman and a Turkish man). 2) The parents speak the same language, but live in a community where most people speak something else (say, a Korean couple living in the USA). In the first case, both the mother and father may want to be able to use their own language when talking to their children.
The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids
What do we make of a boy like Thomas? Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa.
Early childhood development – it’s not rocket science, it’s neuroscience!
I was introduced to Mine Conkbayir when she contacted me about neuroscience informing early years practice, which I think is such an exciting, and growing, area of study. So I was very enthusiastic when she offered to do a guest post on this subject. Here she discusses how neuroscience can add another dimension to our understanding of child development: Like many individuals in this increasingly frantic world, I’m often busy juggling my responsibilities as a parent while I work and continue my studies – a very exciting journey as I try to achieve my PhD in early childhood education and neuroscience. Having been a lecturer across a range of child care and education qualifications for the past 14 years, I continue to be bewildered by the lack of consistently embedded teaching of neuroscience and early brain development across these qualifications. You may well ask ‘how?’
Being Multilingual: The natives and the speakers
Let me start with the good news. We are, all of us without exception, native speakers. This may come as a surprise to those of us who have had close encounters with the second/foreign language world, but is nonetheless true. It means that we are all competent users of language – more or less competent, of course, depending on all sorts of individual and social factors that make us clumsy or proficient in whatever we do. Now the bad news. We are, all of us who use second/foreign languages, failed native speakers of them, which is the meaning of the more politically correct label “non-native speakers”.
Listen to Your Mother
Young children face a remarkable challenge in learning to use the language of their culture. Toddlers vary widely, however, in the rate at which they learn new words.1 A team of Harvard Graduate School of Education researchers set out to ask whether and how children's language environment can impact vocabulary development. In their study of mother-child pairs from low-income families, they found that mothers who used many different words (not just many words) had toddlers with faster growth in vocabulary use. During the toddler and preschool years, most children learn to use hundreds of words, combining them into sentences and engaging in conversation with others.
The Power of Evening Routines
The word “structure” can evoke less than positive associations. It suggests constraints, which are never a good thing, right? Wrong. It turns out that everyone benefits from a certain amount of daily structure, so long as that structure is pleasant, productive, and meaningful. Whether it’s the most inventive minds in history, or those people who live in good health past 100, a daily routine or set of micro-routines is correlated with productivity, health, and longevity.
Does my toddler have a short attention span because she won’t sit still for a story?
A: It is perfectly normal for toddlers to not sit still very long—period. Most don’t like to stay in one place for long now that they can explore in so many new ways—by running, jumping, and climbing. So, an adult’s idea of snuggling on the couch to hear a story may not be the same idea a toddler has for story-time. You may only be able to read or talk about a few pages in a book at a time. Here are some ways to engage active children in reading:
What do babies need in order to learn and thrive? One thing they need is conversation — responsive, back-and-forth communication with their parents and caregivers. This interactive engagement is like food for their developing brains, nurturing language acquisition, early literacy, school readiness, and social and emotional well-being. A dispiriting number of children don’t get that kind of brain-fueling communication, research suggests. In early childhood policy (and in the wider media), much attention has been paid to the so-called word gap — findings that show that low-income children hear 30 million fewer words, on average, and have less than half the vocabulary of upper-income peers by age three. But putting that alarming number in the spotlight obscures a more critical component of the research, says Harvard Graduate School of Education literacy expert Meredith Rowe: it’s not so much the quantity of words but the quality of the talk that matters most to a child’s development.
Total physical response - TPR
Where is it from? How can I use it in class? When should I use it? Why should I use it in the classroom? A few useful variations Are there any disadvantages with using TPR? Where is it from?