Monday, 21 August 2017

Speech, Language, Bilingualism and Homeschooling Live Q and A 2

Is the age of 4 too late to start trying harder with bilingualism?

No, it is not too late. Children are able to acquire another language fairly easily until the age of 6 or 7 years old. After this age, the ease with which a child can learn another language starts to decline and after the age of 12 or 13 years old it becomes harder still.

In his book, Trilingual by Six, Lennis Dipple states that children between the ages of 0-3 are 3 times better at language learning and children between 4-6 years old are 2 times better at language learning than older children and adults. This really shows the heightened language learning ability of young children.

If you are a fluent speaker of the language you would like your child to learn, then start speaking to them in that language now. They will not understand at first, but a 4 year old will pick it up quite quickly. Once they begin to understand you when you are speaking the new language, they will start to answer you in their first language. Then, after some time, they will begin to speak the new language too. Remember, understanding comes before speaking.

A difficulty you may have is that your child may not like you to speak in a foreign language to him. He is not used to it and this may upset him. You should explain to him that you will be speaking to him in your mother tongue from now on and that you think it is important that he learns it; explain why. Hopefully he will get used to it quite quickly.

Here is an article I wrote for Multicultural Kid Blogs that will give you some tips on foreign language learning with young children.

Should a non-speaking toddler go to school?

Yes. Young babies and children often go to nurseries if their parents are working so nursery staff will be very used to looking after young children who do not speak yet. If you are worried that your older toddler is not speaking much yet, the answer to the next question will give you some tips to help.

How to encourage a 2 year old to start putting words together

At the age of two, a child should be saying between 50-200 words and start to put two words together. For more details about the milestones of speech and language development in young children take a look at this post. After the age of two, there is a language explosion where young children can learn up to 10 new words everyday!

If your two year old has not yet started to put two words together, here are some tips to help.

Running commentary

Talk about what you are doing when you are doing it. You may feel a bit silly at first but it is a really good technique for increasing your child's language skills. The more language they are hearing, the more they will take in, understand and speak.

E.g. at breakfast time you can explain what you are doing, 'I'm getting a bowl out of the cupboard. Now I'm pouring the cereal into the bowl. Now I'm pouring the milk into the bowl. Here is you breakfast. Here is a spoon. Eat your breakfast. Yummy!'

Short, simple phrases

Do not be tempted to use long words and phrases when speaking to young children. If your child is having difficulty, simplify your speech and language. Make sentences short and easy for them to comprehend.

E.g. Instead of saying, ' Why are you throwing all your food on the floor? Stop it right now, you are making such a mess and I'm tired of cleaning it up!', say, ' No throwing food. Eat your food.'

Expand on what they say

When your child says one word, repeat it back to them as part of a phrase. This shows them how they can put that single word into a phrase and, hopefully, enable them to start doing it too.

E.g. if your child says 'car', you say, ' a big, blue car' or 'car driving'.

How can homeschooled children get enough social interaction with their peers?

Homeschooled children often get a lot of opportunities to socialise with other children of all ages. In fact, it is a more natural experience of social interaction than they would get at school. In school children spend the whole day with other children the same age as them and they do not have much time to socialise with those older or younger than them. This is not a natural way to socialise. At no other point in your life will you only be socialising with others of the same age group. As an adult, I need to be able to socialise with the whole range of age groups, from elderly people to babies. Therefore, teaching children to socialise with others of all ages can be a great advantage to them later in life. At each homeschool group we attend, there is a mix of age groups and it is wonderful to see the children learning from the older ones and helping out the younger ones.

Also, there is an abundance of homeschool groups and meetups. In my area, there are many groups to attend every day. There is almost too much; we cannot attend everything! So, my children have opportunities to interact with others every day. If you are thinking about homeschooling and worried about this particular topic, then just take a look at what there is on offer in your local homeschool community; you may be surprised at how much there is to do!

I hope you have found this video and information useful. I will be doing a Facebook live Q and A once a week where I will be answering a few of your questions. I can answer questions on any speech and language issue, bilingualism or homeschooling. If you have any questions you would like answered, please head over to my Facebook page and leave a comment on the relevant post or send me a message with the question. Alternatively, leave a question in the comments below.

Here are some popular articles I have written about speech, language and bilingualism:


Thursday, 17 August 2017

How to Supplement Your Child's Language Classes at Home

Many multilingual children attend language classes at weekends or after school. These can be a great way for them to improve their language skills, converse with others who speak the same languages as them, interact with children of the same multicultural background and feel part of the community. However, if you think attending one language class a week is enough for your child, you are mistaken. Once a week is simply not enough and I explored the pros and cons of weekend language schools in a recent article.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Bilingual Language Activity: Learn Colours With Play Dough

Play dough is an amazingly versatile resource for all kinds of play activities. We use it a lot in many different ways. We have used it with monochrome buttons for numeracy, creating pictures and mark-making. I wrote about using play dough to keep toddlers occupied whilst homeschooling older children. 


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Speech, Language and Bilingualism Live Q and A

Teaching young children a foreign language

Should you follow a curriculum?

No, you do not need to follow any curriculum. If you think about how babies learn their first language, you will know that they learn it by listening to others speaking it in their environment. It is a natural process so try to make the learning of a second or third language as natural as possible also. 


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Nature Journaling at Dyrham Park

As national trust members, we often go on days out to various stately homes and gardens. Dyrham Park is a wonderful National Trust property in South Gloucestershire and is one of our favourite places to visit. It has a beautiful walk down hills to the house and gardens and has herds of deer inhabiting the grounds.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Learning About the Heart and Lungs

We have been learning about the human body with our weekly project group. We have already looked at the skeleton and the brain. This time we learnt about the heart and lungs.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Learning about Stonehenge

We have been learning about the Stone Age using our history curriculum, Story of the World. We have made crafts and built our own Stone Age den.  Now it was time to learn about Stonehenge, one of the ancient wonders of the world. It is 5000 years old and why and how it was built still remains somewhat of a mystery. 

There are some interesting theories trying to explain it, perhaps the most well-known being that it was a place for ritual ceremonies on Midsummer and Midwinter's day. Today it is still a place for festivities on these two days every year.

There are many legends and folk tales about Stonehenge. I was surprised to learn that one of these legends is that Merlin, the wizard, put the stones there and if you lick one of the stones you will get Merlin's powers! Apparently, people do try to do this but they are immediately arrested as the stones are closely watched and protected. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Waldorf Inspired Multiplication Crafts

Learning multiplication is one the the staple requirements of maths education. I remember, as a child, reciting times tables in class at school. I remember the challenge of learning a new times table by heart. I remember how it opened up the capacity for higher mathematical skills. Yes, there is no doubt, learning multiplication is important. However, it can be dull to simply sit down and learn it by rote. Therefore, I am always looking for interesting ways to learn it.

When I came across the Waldorf approach to multiplication, I was entranced. This wasn't just mathematics; it was art. I knew I had to show this to the children and allow them to try it out for themselves.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Pros and Cons of Weekend Language Schools

School classroom clipart

As you may know, we are a multilingual family. My husband speaks Turkish and two Kurdish languages (Zazaki and Kurmanji) and my parents speak Polish. As a Muslim family, learning Arabic is also important. I would like my children to understand the language of the Quran, not just recite it as many people do. Also, as one of the top ten most spoken languages in the world, Arabic is also important from a political and social point of view. 

With so many languages we simply cannot learn them all. We have decided to concentrate on teaching the children Arabic and Turkish as minority languages; our majority language, the language of the society in which we live, being English. 

It can be hard to teach your child a minority language so parents in this position, like us, are often looking for ways to assist their child's language learning skills. Weekend language schools can seem a good solution to this common issue. But are they really? Read on to find out.


Interview With Author Charlotte Olson

Charlotte Olson is the author of a fantastic new range of children's books which promote the awareness of autism through fun and interesting stories.

I recently got sent a copy of a new children's book called 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers'. It is the story of an autistic girl called Suzie and her experience of going to the hairdressers. I got the chance to interview the author to find out all about her new range of children's books.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Book Review - Suzie Goes to the Hairdressers

When I found out about some new children's books which have an autistic child as the protagonist, I had to get my hand on one. I have never read a book like this before which promotes awareness of autism through the story of a little girl going to the hairdressers. I was thrilled when the author, Charlotte Olson, sent me a copy to review.

The book is about a little girl called Suzie who has autism. She is worried about going to the hairdressers to get her hair cut.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Trip to Marshfield Farm

We often go to special workshops and tours organised for home educated children. Last week we got the opportunity to go to Marshfield Farm where the famous Marshfield Farm ice cream is made. I had never been to this farm before, or heard much about it, but as soon as I knew they made ice cream I was in! 

The drive down to the farm did not take us too long and it made me feel lucky to have this amazing farm on our doorstep. The farm sits in around 1000 acres of land and is home to a few hundred cows.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tips on How to Homeschool With a Toddler Around

When I tell people that I homeschool my children, I am often asked how I manage it. One of the biggest things people want to know is how can I possibly homeschool with younger children around. Do they cause too many distractions? How can I keep them occupied? How can we get anything done?

Well, it is not as hard as you may think. I see homeschooling as a family affair. We do as much as we can together and I always try to include my youngest as much as possible. In fact, he often wants to be involved. Here are some tips on how to home school with a toddler around. With some simple strategies, you can do it too.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Learning About the Brain

We have been learning about the human body at our weekly project group and this week we learnt about the brain. We started off by watching a few YouTube clips about the brain. This one was our favourite.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Learning Arabic on the Beach

We have just returned home after spending a long weekend at my parents caravan in Devon. The weather was glorious for the first few days and the children had lots of fun building sandcastles, rock pooling and playing in the sea. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Bilingual Language Activity - My Family

When learning a foreign language, one of the first things you will want to learn is vocabulary to talk about yourself and your family. You will often need this vocabulary to use in conversations with new people you meet. It allows you to tell people about yourself and it also allows you to get to know others and form relationships with them. 

There are many ways to learn new vocabulary, but when teaching young children, it is best to use practical and/or visual techniques. These techniques will keep them interested in the task, provide them with appropriate context and aid memorisation. As my children love crafting, I often use craft activities for our language learning. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Strawberry Picking and Scrumptious Recipes

Fruit picking is one of my favourite summertime activities. Berries are some of my favourite fruits but they seem quite expensive and often tasteless when you buy them out of season from the supermarket; it is always best to eat them fresh from the field. So far we have picked strawberries and I cannot wait until the raspberries are ready to harvest. Still have to wait a few more weeks for those.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Learning about the sense - Taste

As you know we have been learning about the senses. The next sense we have been exploring is the sense of taste. I think this was the children's favourite as they have been asking to do these activities everyday since! First, we read the next book in our senses series; 'Taste that'! 

Then, we did some practical activities. I am a big fan of practical learning experiences, especially for young children. It really engages their attention which makes it more likely they will enjoy, understand and remember what they learn. Here's what we did.


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Learning about Skeletons

Now that we have finished our astronomy topic, we are moving on to the human body. We started off by learning all about bones and the skeleton. 

Learning About Astronomy - the Planets

Our final astronomy topic was the planets. We started by reading these books about the planets which are great for children. Each book covers two planets.

Then we made posters with all the planets on. This was a lot of fun. The children were given a long, thin piece of black paper and circles of white paper of different sizes. They then used poster paints to paint each planet. They looked at pictures of the planets to help them do this.

As they painted, we talked about the different features of each planet. What colours were they? Were they made of gas or rock? Did they have any moons or rings?


Monday, 26 June 2017

Bilingual Language Activity - Finger Painting Wildlife

As you may know, we are a multicultural, multilingual family with quite a few different languages being spoken in our surroundings. As the children's father is from Turkey, Turkish is the main language we are teaching the children. It can be very difficult to teach the children a non-native language, and even more difficult to maintain it. Therefore, I am always on the look out for new ideas or thinking up creative ways to make language learning fun.

The weather has been glorious lately so we have been spending a lot of time outdoors. I try to encourage my children to participate in outdoor play activities as much as possible and prompt them to observe the environment around them. When we go out and about, I point out the flowers and wildlife that we encounter and encourage them to talk about their own observations. I thought it would be a good idea to start learning some more wildlife vocabulary in Turkish so we can use it on our outings, or even just in the garden

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Learning about astronomy - the Earth

We have already learnt about the stars, the Moon and planets. Our next astronomy topic covered the Earth. As our planet, the Earth is something we all know a lot about. We started by thinking about all the things we love about our planet. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Celebrating Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr is a special night for Muslims around the world. It is the night of power when Allah revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. We do not know the exact date of Laylat al-Qadr, we only know that it is one of the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan and it is an odd numbered night (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th). This night is very special because it is said to be worth as much as 1000 months, or 83 years. The angels come down from the heavens and are among us, although we cannot see them. Muslims carry out lots of acts of worship during the last 10 days of Ramadan in the hope of gaining the blessings of the night of power. They pray, read Quran, make dua and do other acts of worship.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Building a Stone Age Den

We have been learning about the Stone Age as part of our history curriculum. We have done many crafts and activities, which you can read about in this post, as well as attending a workshop at the local museum. After all that, I thought it was time to get outdoors for a practical lesson.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Learning about the Stone Age

We have spent the last couple of weeks learning about the Stone Age. We are following the 'Story of the World' curriculum for history, which is the only curriculum we follow (apart from maths). I really like the 'Story of the World' curriculum. It comes with two books; a reading book and an activity book. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Learning About Astronomy - the Stars

Our next topic in our astronomy project was stars. Stars are such a broad topic and you can cover many different areas; types of stars, the life cycle of a star, the birth of stars and our star - the Sun. We started off by watching a short video about stars which I found on YouTube by Storybots. Storybots really make learning fun by introducing topics through song.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Learning About Astronomy - the Moon

We have spent the last month or so learning about astronomy as our science topic. We have learnt about the planets, the Earth, stars and the moon. We go to a project group once a week where the children learn about these topics together with other children. They love this weekly group and have started to make some good friendships. We often continue learning about these topics at home and they form the basis of our science curriculum, giving it structure and focus.

We were not able to cover the moon during our project group sessions so we spent a week learning about it at home. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Nature journaling at Bowood Woodland

I have been reading a lot about nature journaling recently. It is a lovey way to study nature using art and observation. By sketching or painting, it allows you to slow down and analyse something in great detail and you may spot things which you otherwise might miss. Look at the colours, the shapes, the textures in detail and experiment with techniques in your artwork. Nature journaling is a great way to learn skills, document your observations and gain knowledge about the natural world around us.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ramadan Calendar

Here I will show you how I made a Ramadan calendar for my children. A Ramadan calendar works like an advent calendar but instead of counting down the days til Christmas, it counts down the days of Ramadan til Eid day.

During Ramadan Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk. This means that they must not eat or drink anything during daylight hours. The length of time of the fast varies each day as the days either lengthen or shorten throughout the month. At the end of the month, we celebrate Eid.


Indoor Fun Review

The second of the review posts I am doing will give you an idea of all the indoor fun we have had over the last two years. Yes, two years is a very long time but I will try my best to sum it up.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Outdoor Fun Review

This is the first post of my review on the past two years. Here I will share some of the fun we have had outdoors.

Almost 2 years ago, a healthy baby boy joined our family. I spent a lot of time baby wearing.

We fed the ducks.

We climbed trees.

We went fruit picking.

We went to see where our vegetable boxes come from.

We did a cooking class at Tyntesfield, one of our local National Trust properties.

We played in dens.

We jumped in leaves.

We played with water.

We went pond dipping.

We played in muddy streams.

We jumped in puddles.

We made fires.

We watched a battle reenactment.

We grew our own fruit and vegetables.

Riyad tried to cut worms out of the apples (there were no worms in the apples!)

We went to the park.

We played in the snow!

We rode on a steam train.

We rode on a miniature train.

We went to the beach.

And enjoyed many wonderful family days out.

What do you and your children like to do outdoors?

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