Category Archives: Parenting

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Repair instead of buying new

With the month of October fast approaching, as a buy-nothing-new-month “celebrated” in other countries too, when I saw this post on my timeline this morning, I remembered that I saw some Repair Cafés in Germany recently.

I wasn’t really surprised to find out that the Repair Café was initiated by the Dutch Martine Postma in 2007 in Amsterdam, and that it has been a great success since. Martine started the Repair Café Foundation in 2009, a non-profit organisation, “that provided professional support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Café”, and she even wrote a  book about it (in Dutch).

On the site you can find out where to find the closest Repair Café in your area:
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And if there is none, they have a great guideline about how you can start one, after all, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel…:
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This step-by-step manual is based on our years of experience, and guides you through all the different stages of setting up your own Repair Café: from finding local repair experts and a suitable location, to collecting the right tools, creating publicity, finding funds for your initiative etc.

 

 

 

What I like about this idea is not only the fact that we get the chance to learn how to repair items even if we are not a professional – we can get help at those Cafés! – but it’s the mindset. Why throw away if you can repair it? Many times we choose to buy new because repairing is way too expensive, and I admit that I did it several times in the past. But many items can actually be fixed with less expense. There are shops that have spare parts – one has only to find them… In these Repair Cafés you can ask people about that and maybe you’re lucky and find even someone who has an idea how to repair it.
Repairing is to give things a new chance – and sometimes purpose. I like this idea because it is one of the things I want my children to learn: that we can fix things, that items can be repaired. I want them to grow up with what I call the repairing-mindset (I’ll explain it more in another post soon), because it will help them to be more conscientious and respectful for things they/we own.

Not throwing away things, but trying to fix them is in line with the buy-nothing-new-month movement, a “global movement for collective, conscientious consumption” and the idea started in Melbourne and spread to the Netherlands and the USA.

Since I wrote about this buy-nothing-new-month a few years ago, in our family we tend to expand this month over the whole year. It’s not about not buying anything at all – we all need food and items for our household that we still need to buy. It’s more about reflecting on what we “need” and what we “want”, and if the things we want are really so indispensable – and if they really need to be bought new…

I personally like the idea of knowing how to fix things, to reuse them, maybe by giving them another purpose; and I like the idea of my non-needed/wanted items to find a new home and make someone else happy.

– What are the items you repair? Do you throw away the items you no longer use or need, or do you give them away?

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Why is your toddler hitting you?

When toddlers start hitting, many parents, teachers, care givers feel they are at a wits end. What makes it difficult is, that we usually assume that someone who hits us wants to hurt us.

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Bilingualism and homework (part 1)

I recently discussed this topic with linguists and parents who are raising their children bilingually and I noticed that people generally tend to jump onto general conclusions way too quickly.

Parents who send their children to an international school where lessons are held in another language often struggle when it comes to doing homeworks.

The question I often hear from parents and that induces me to write this post is: “Do I need to do homework with my child in his/her mothertongue or is it enough if she/he does the homework in the school language?”

There is not an overall answer, because there are differenct appraisal factors to consider.

First of all, if using the mother language helps to understand the topic of the homework, it would surely be important to switch to it.

Especially with literacy homework it is very helpful to discuss the topic of a text or book in the first language so that the child really gets the meaning of the text in the school language.

Parents often assume that their children fully understand a text because they are able to “perfectly” read it phonetically. We can’t be ” perfectly bilingual” after 2 weeks or a few months at school.

Fact is that children first of all learn the phonetics. They simply repeat the soundchains. So, for example, they would be able to say “Good morning”, “Thank you”, “May I have… please” very quickly. But only when they use a broader spectrum of sentences with similar words they will be able to understand that for example, “good” can be combined with “morning” , “evening”, “job”, “girl”, “boy” etc. Very slowly they will divide those sound chains into actual words and morphemes.

It takes children from 5 to 9/10 years to catch up on monolingual peers language-wise.

Therefore, when we send our children to a school where they’ll be immersed into another language the whole day, we’ll need to support them process what they’ve learned at home by using our family languages.

When our children come home with a book to read aloud, our task is to question them about the text. Asking them to paraphrase the text is a great way to understand whether they understand the plot or not.

We can ask them to find other words, synonyms for words that may be more difficult. – Obviously, in order to do this we should have a great proficiency in the school language too! – But what if this is not the case?

Many parents struggle with this and I know that some take extra language lessons in order to be able to help their children at school.

But if one doesn’t have the time to do so, or finds it really hard to catch up with the language, my advice is to try to find other words in the family language and if the child asks for more synonyms in the school language, don’t hesitate to use the dictionary. I know many parents who improved their languages by learning alongside their children.

What seems very logical and relatively easy for literacy, becomes more complex for other disciplines. (see part 2 soon)

 

International Mother Language Day #IMLD campaign

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Since the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed it officially on 19th November 1999, the International Mother Language Day is celebrated every year on the 21st of February since 2000. The aim is to develop awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions all over the world by promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

The 21st of February represents the remembrence day in 1952, “when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka”, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

On the 16th of May 2007, the United Nations General Assembly called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.

Speaking one’s motherlanguage (or fatherlanguage!) is still not something we all can take for granted, especially in places where local mother tongues are threatened by more dominant languages.

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Language is not only a means of communication but it is the most powerful instrument of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.

Please join us in celebrating all our languages with a month of events, posts, promotions etc. leading up to the International Mother Language Day on 21st  February 2015!

On facebook we’ve started an #IMLD campaign that aims to raise awareness that mother (and father!) languages are precious, valuable heritages in our global lifes. Our goal is to see the day celebrated widely all over the world by families, schools, communities on national and global level.

This year’s theme for the day is “Inclusion in and through education: Language counts”. This and other topics related to the values the day represents will be highlighted in the campaign which starts today, 22 January, runs for 30 days and culminates on Saturday the 21st of February when we can all celebrate together.

Join us in the campaign by visiting and liking the International Mother Language Day Celebration Facebook page and by sharing the daily posts through social media in the run-up to the day. The Facebook page will be a treasure throve of quotes, pictures, links to posts, articles, and activities to do with mother tongue, language, multilingualism, education, multiculturalism and diversity. Use the #IMLD hashtag to find others’ messages on social media and share them.