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Archive for December, 2009

‘Tis the Season to be Giving!

Almost every conversation during the holiday season revolves around the word “thankfulness,” making this the perfect time of the year to help your children understand the meaning of being thankful. One of the many ways to do that is through community service.

Volunteering is an enriching experience for all involved, and there are now more opportunities, and more reasons, than ever for families to volunteer together.

Reasons to get involved:

  1. It feels good.  Satisfaction and pride come from helping others.
  2. It strengthens community.  Organizations that use volunteers provide services at low or no cost to those in need.
  3. It can strengthen the family.  Families can have fun and feel closer.  Select one or two projects a year and make them a family tradition.

What do children learn?

  1. A sense of responsibility.  Children learn how to be on time, do their best and be proud of the results.
  2. One person can make a difference.
  3. The benefit of sacrifice.  Giving a toy to a child who is less fortunate helps children learn that it’s good to sacrifice.  Volunteering to clean up a park teaches children that there are more important things besides us and our needs.
  4. Tolerance.  Volunteering allows children to be in touch with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities and ages.

How to get involved?

  1. The internet offers a lot of information about volunteering. You can begin your search by logging on to Yahoo! Directory and typing “community service and volunteerism organizations” in the search box.
  2. Call a local charity, church or hospital.

Community service makes a lasting impression on children. They quickly learn that the service they provide impacts real people, and they feel good about it.

More on Teaching Your Child a Second Language

Last week we took a look at the importance of introducing a second language to a child early on, and at activities for accomplishing this among children from infancy to 18 months old. Below are some suggestions for the toddler to pre-kindergarten age group:

Toddler (18 to 36 months)

  • Repeat everyday words in all languages.
  • Link words together.
  • Prompt your child to attempt new words.
  • While playing a game, such as “Memory,” recite words in both languages.
  • Begin to use common words in the second language without repeating in your native tongue.
  • Listen to music in other languages.

Preschool to Pre-Kindergarten (36 months +)

  • Use your everyday experiences for language opportunities (e.g., sign the food item you want your child to find at the grocery store).
  • Sing songs in other languages.
  • If your family has two native languages in your household, speak one language at home and the other outside of the home to practice proper language use.
  • Watch your child’s favorite movie in another language. Many DVDs now offer language choices.
  • Visit cultural fairs, food markets and restaurants of other cultures.

The key to teaching your child a second language is to immerse him or her in the language. Your child’s teacher probably does this throughout the day by labeling and referencing items and actions in the classroom in different languages. You can work with your child’s teacher by referencing these labels and incorporating the language into your child’s play at home. With your participation, the immersion is complete.

December is Learn a Foreign Language Month

Learning language is a natural process when children are young. Introducing them to second languages such as Spanish, French and sign language encourages brain development. The earlier a child is exposed to another language, the greater the likelihood that the child will become fluent in the language.

Second languages also help celebrate cultural diversity and create an understanding of the written word. A second language can open doors and unleash curiosity.

Immersing your child in a second language early on is the key to success. Following are some age-appropriate activities to help you incorporate a second language into your baby’s daily routine:

Infant to One Year

  • Sign as you say words.
  • Sign in one-word syllables (e.g., more, mom, dad, ball).
  • Gently move your child’s hands to make a sign.
  • Play music from around the world.

12 to 18 months

  • Add to signing vocabulary, use signs with verbal cues.
  • Say both the English word and the second language word for an object.
  • Practice the second language while playing ball (e.g., As you roll the ball to your child say, “Here comes the red ball, pelota roja.”)
  • Use the second language words interchangeably in your own speech.
  • Name body parts, animals and colors in the second language.

Visit our next blog post for suggestions on teaching a foreign language to toddlers and preschoolers.