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Better Planning: Child Care Tips From The Frontline

Hello. I'm a mum with seven children under ten years of age. As you can imagine, all aspects of child care have become the centre of my life. Finding child-friendly products, appropriate play groups and suitable child care facilities are challenges I face on a daily basis. Of course, I'm much more relaxed now after seven children, and I know exactly what products, play groups, and facilities to look for. I figured that other parents might be able to use some of the hacks I've learnt along the way. I hope you find my entries entertaining and informative. Happy parenting!

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Better Planning: Child Care Tips From The Frontline

Encouraging Children to Pick Up a Second Language From an Early Age

by Soledad Gomez

Many people are eager for their children to pick up a second language. Learning a second language from a young age is much easier, as the brain is more malleable and able to pick up new language connection more easily. Here are some easy ways to help children learn a second language. 

Listening to songs and music

Many nursery rhymes and songs have easy-to-download versions in other common languages. Not only does this teach the kids some easy-to-comprehend language, but also it gives them the practice in hearing different sounds and types of letter pronunciation. Whilst in English tonality is not that vital, in many languages, including Chinese and Spanish, changing the emphasis of the sounds in a word can change the entire meaning of a word. Practicing listening for these changes in emphasis can be a vital skill in developing a good understanding of the language structure. 

Greeting people in different ways

Rather than saying hello when people come in, you can use different greetings such as 'Hola' or 'Ni Hao'. Using these greetings shows the children how the same function is performed by different words, and they can also see common answers to the 'small talk' that is often used when dealing with strangers. This also encourages children to respect diversity in the childcare community, particularly if they hear parents and carers who speak a language other than English at home talking with their children in that language. 

Use story books from other languages and cultures

It is now easier than ever to order children's books in other languages, as large booksellers will ship from overseas for a lower price than many local bookstores. You can pick up a range of books so that you can alternate through different books and use them for story times. Not only does this help to build the children's vocabulary, but also it can help to keep things more interesting for the carers. 

Involve the parents

As parents are usually very eager to support their children's second language acquisition, you should talk to the parents and let them know the words you are using in class and the stories or songs the children may mention. This helps them to support the learning. You can also suggest other resources such as bilingual television shows they may like to introduce to the children. 

Children are most likely to pick up second language when the language occurs naturally in their early learning environment and is presented in a fun way.