Tag Archives: Life with children

10 indoor activities for children

Now that the days are getting shorter in the northern hemisphere and the weather is less appealing for outdoor activities, it’s very tempting to give in to children’s TV or computer requests.

I don’t want to make a statement about childhood and „screen time“ in this post, I just would like to give some hints for alternative indoor activities that are not too energy consuming for parents.

Parents often don’t look forward to spending hours with more or less excited children around the house, asking all 5 minutes what they can do. When these long rainy or stormy days start, it’s harder for all of us to get used to spend more time inside and find the way back to what I call the „winter-routine“.

Here are some of my kid’s favourite indoors activities:

1) Craftworks

Craftworks 2

©expatsincebirth

Usually children like to do things with paper, clay, wood, different fabrics etc. If you’re not the crafty sort of parent, there are plenty of sites with instructions about what you need, how to make them etc. or just to get inspired.

Craftworks

©expatsincebirth

Especially before Christmas, the kids can do something to decorate the house or to offer as a gift to family and friends. These activities can take hours, days, weeks to make.

In a few weeks some of us will celebrate Halloween: you can already start with decorations etc. In some european countries we also celebrate Saint Martin (11.11.) where children make a walk in the evening, holding colourful lanterns and singing songs.

2) Audiobooks and music

In general, while doing all sorts of handicrafts, my children like to listen to audiobooks. If your children play instruments: it’s very nice to let them set up a concert – with tickets, a real programm etc. for after dinner. They will be busy for hours!

3) Help cooking

When I’m not too much in a hurry, I like my children to participate in cooking. They all can make pizza, salads, quiches etc.: everything you do in the kitchen is great fun. And your children can exercice a bit of maths doing the measuring.

4) Reading

Lesen

©expatsincebirth

During this period of the year we really read a lot. We have books in almost every room and our children love to read. We also go regularly to our local public library to get some new “reading-food” (that’s how we call it in German: “Lesefutter”).

readingblurry

©expatsincebirth

5) Write a story

For children who are already a bit older, writing a little story can be very thrilling. They can write a comic or a „novel“, add some pictures (or not). And for those who are not fluently yet, they can illustrate a story and you can help them to add some words.

6) Showtime

Kasperletheater

©expatsincebirth

My children like to act and often set up a whole role play, sometimes based on books or just invented by themselves. This takes them hours to organize and we often enjoy nice after-dinner shows. Smaller children might enjoy some puppet-plays or dress-up games.

7) Dancing in the house

We all like to dance and hop around from time to time. It’s also fun for mum’s and dad’s and it helps to get rid of the extra energy.

8) Board games

In this time of the year, we often sit down after dinner and play a board game. It’s not only fun for all of us, but it’s also a great opportunity to exercice several skills. – You can also ask your children to invent a board game by themselves, using materials you have in the house.

9) Make a mess

Legoalltogether

©expatsincebirth

If you don’t mind your house getting a bit messy, your kids could build castles with blankets, cushions etc. or set up an obstacle run or just use all their lego’s or playmobiles or else to “enjoy” them once altogether.

10) Just get bored

I must confess that I like my children to be bored from time to time, because I think they need to learn to figure out by themselves what to do when the input from school, after school, parents etc. ceases. And most of the cases they come up with great ideas. I even experienced that this boredom stops when they’re used to spend more time using their imagination.

These are just a few hints for parents who’s kids don’t know what to do. But I’m sure your children will have lots of ideas to add. Would you like to share them?

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The importance of reading for multilingual children

I just read Eowyn Crisfield’s post “The Importance of Monolingual Situations for Bilinguals“ about how to get children use the minority language. The most effective way is to build a social environment that shares the language(s). But this is not always possible.

Maybe you’ll find families who share the same language, but they don’t have children in the appropriate yeargroup, or these children don’t share the same interests with your children. In this case there are other solutions. DVD’s and TV aside, we found it very useful to read books, listen to audio books and Cd’s with nursery rhymes or songs.

If we read to our children right after birth and have the habit to read every day in a passionate way, this will not only help them with brain development, speech skills etc. but most probably they will be turning into passionate readers as well.

Especially if your children grow up in a multilingual environment, it’s vital to “feed“ them with books. In early years, reading aloud helps to develop vocabulary and “builds a strong emotional bond between parents and children“ and the language you’re reading to them. Even if they are big enough to read by themselves, if they’re not exposed regularly to the language, reading them aloud can be an important help for them to grasp the variances in phonics.

Reading is still the best way to build up a linguistic competence, not only it builds up vocabulary but it also helps to give our children an immediate and natural access to the grammar. Obviously it’s important that parents, as role models, read a lot too or that the kids’ peers love reading.

Why is reading so important for us? Well, it’s the time we can bond with our children. In our family we have a reading routine: every afternoon we sit and read for an hour. And we used to read to our children until they were able to read alone at bedtime. Now they prefer reading by themselves before sleeping but sometimes we all enjoy me or my husband reading to them. These are memories that our children will (hopefully!) remember when they will be parents too. I would even say that the habit of reading (a lot!) is a legacy I want to pass on to my children. And our children are passionate readers of German, Dutch and English books so far. – I guess I can say it’s already a success.

Obviously you can also rely on child appropriate TV channels in the minority language(s), to give your children a “language shower“. But TV is not a substitute for books.

If you are looking for shows for your children, try to choose wisely. Choose some where your children are stimulated to think, whose topics can be shared afterwards in a discussion with you or within the family or friends. Some shows for children are also accessible via internet.

You can also decide to buy or rent DVD’s in the minority language(s). We have several films in one to three of the languages our children are exposed to. Lately, while watching one of these films, my son (9) noticed that in the translated version some of the sentences weren’t translated in a very accurate way and came up with very good alternatives: this is one great aspect of raising multilingual children (and there are many more)!

Rita from did write posts about “Why reading is important” here and here.

More „Things to say to“…

A few days ago I published a post about „5 Things to say to a twin mum“ and was amazed on how many feedbacks I received. I would like to thank all those who took the time to read the post and to leave a reply.

I also did invite to publish posts about „what to say“ instead of „what not to say“ and Olga did already write a brilliant post about what to say to parents of bilingual children here.

I did a quick research on the net about posts on „what to say“ about different topics and found it very interesting that most of the times, the authors of these posts did write them in addition to former „what not to say“-posts they published. Here is a first list:

Things to say to parents of children with autism, special care babies, children with special needs. There are suggestions about what to say to a sick friend, a depressed loved one, a cancer patient.

Do you have any suggestions about topics you would like to read a „What to say“ or „Things to say“ post about?

About OPOL

In articles about bilingualism and OPOL we usually find two different labels: “one parentone language” or “one person one language” which, in my opinion, is a bit misleading.

The term of OPOL was first introduced by the french linguist Maurice Grammont in 1902. In Observations sur le langage des enfants (Observations on Children’s Language), he introduced the idea of une personne, une langue. Literally translated from the French as one person, one language.

He theorized that by separating the languages from the beginning, parents could prevent confusion and code-mixing in their bilingual children. Therefore if each parent speaks only one of the two languages to the child, the chances that the child will mix the languages are reduced. By using his or her own language each parent gives an example of adult language use.

Many studies followed like the one of Jules Ronjat, Le Développement du langage: observé chez un enfant bilingue (The Development of Language: Observations of a Bilingual Child). Observing his son, Louis, Ronjat came to the conclusion that the consistent use of two languages at home from birth on, is a major factor in achieving bilingualism. He noted that Louis had acquired and mastered two languages in a similar phonological order to that of the average monolingual child.

In linguistic circles the term of OPOL is very common and is frequently used in books and articles since the 1980s as a way to describe a child being brought up as a simultaneous bilingual. In these studies we find the word parent alternate with person (cfr. B. Bain and A. Yu, Cognitive consequences of raising children bilingually: One parent, one language, Canadian Journal of Psychology, vol.34(4), Dec. 1980, 304-313). This leads to confusion as the use of parent instead of person implies that the parents are the only linguistic role models for a child.

In my opinion, Grammont’s label one person one language is much more appropriate in our society. It includes also bilingual mum-mum or dad-dad families and families where one parent is absent and another person takes the caregiver-role. Moreover, it does include also other persons in our children’s life like sibilings, extended family, daycarers, nannys, babysitters  etc..