5 articles Tag learn

Why You Should Teach Your Children a Foreign Language at Home

While English has become one of the most spoken languages around the world, learning a foreign language opens many doors. It is extremely beneficial to teach children a foreign language from a young age to assure that they can have a future in which they can travel around the world and communicate with people from different nationalities and backgrounds. With a foreign language one can form cross-cultural friendships, have a boosted cross-cultural understanding but also benefit from broader career opportunities and exciting travel adventures. Teaching a child a foreign language no longer means sending them off to language classes but it can also be easily taught at home through reading and interactive games and videos.

It is always encouraged to begin teaching a child a foreign language from a young age as the younger the mind is, the easier it is to pick up the language. As a child starts getting older certain windows close in terms of language acquisition therefore learning a language before puberty will allow children to speak with a native accent. Knowing a foreign language is certainly an incredible skill to have especially when thinking ahead of the child’s future career. Career-wise it is in fact known that professionals who can communicate in a second or third language are always more desirable for the job. It has also been studied that thinking in a foreign language helps people make quicker and better decisions and can contribute to a higher standard of living.

There are many ways to teach children a foreign language and the very first place to begin is inside the child’s home. If the child’s parents speak two different languages a highly recommend approach is the One Person One Language method. With this method each parent consistently speaks a different language to the child, for example one parent will speak their native Spanish while the other speaks their native English. This method is highly effective in raising a bilingual child as there is a consistent exposure to two different languages. A few other ways to teach a child a foreign language is to have them read consistently in the foreign language. Watching videos that are 100% in the target language is also a great way to interactively learn. Language learning apps also provide a simple, effective and comprehensive system for learning languages at one’s own pace through interactive lessons, numerous courses and with the help of voice recognition. For example a child can easily learn French thanks to the combination of effective education methods and the use of apps like Babbel that are interactive and therefore very intuitive.

When deciding which foreign languages to teach your child it is important to think of their future and which languages might benefit them the most. Spanish for example is the second widest spoken language in the world, with over 300 million people speaking it every day. Spanish is therefore one of the most useful languages in the world for travel and business opportunities. Meanwhile, French is the most widely studied foreign language in the world, with 200 million speakers worldwide. French is also the official language of 29 countries and is the basis for many words in English such as “naïve” and “cinema”. Mandarin Chinese instead is spoken by over 1 billion people worldwide, making it the most widely spoken language in the world. The Chinese have always interacted with hundreds of cultures and many nations today enjoy Chinese-specific cultural contributions in the areas of cuisine, commerce and the arts. As Mandarin Chinese is tonal, meaning that pitch is used to distinguish its lexical or grammatical meaning, the earlier a child begins to learn this language the easier it will be for them to pick up on the difference in tone.

Many parents have become more proactive in jump-starting foreign language education for their children knowing all the benefits a second or third language can bring for their children later on in life. Language learning has many benefits on the brain: in fact it is proven to boost cognitive, memory and listening skills and is therefore a wonderful way to stimulate a child’s brain while in its peak development.

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at school

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at schoolThere is no “right” way to bring up children, and sometimes the more advice and opinions you hear, the tougher it can seem. Even the views of the greatest teachers and psychologists always differ to a certain extent.

Still, there is one thing on which everyone is in broad agreement: if you give your children freedom and value their individuality, they will grow up confident and happy. Another basic truth is that parents have as important a role in educating their kids as schoolteachers. With that in mind, here are five lessons that will be of value to every child, which you can help them to learn:

Independence

Before doing something for your children, step back and ask yourself whether they can do it themselves. Everyone needs freedom, but keep in mind that freedom and permissiveness are not the same thing. Let them try to do their own shoelaces, for example. Encourage, guide and most of all be patient. They will get there in the end.

Housework 

Here’s a secret: Kids love to help out with things. The only reason they get lazy and reluctant is through habit if you don’t let them get in on the act from a young age. The sooner children learn to perform ordinary household chores, the more confident and self-sufficient they will be in future. Aside from that, it’s always nice to have an additional pair of hands to help with cleaning or washing up, and it’s a great time to chat without the intrusion of a TV screen or games console.

Of course, kids don’t become skilled in domestic chores overnight, and role play games are highly valuable here. Those toy kitchens and toolkits are the perfect start, and you will see how much they love preparing pretend meals or repairing their toy cars.

Choosing and analysing

Your children will ultimately live their own lives, not the ones that you or the teachers in school have in mind. Where you can make a difference is to coach them on how to make wise decisions. Provide your child with the opportunity to choose as often as possible. For example, what to wear or what colour backpack to buy.

Beyond that, get the kids involved in broader family decisions, so that they can see how to research options and make the right choice. Whether it’s booking a family holiday or choosing the right printer cartridge, there is research to be done. Using the latter example as a case in point, show them the price of cartridges on the high street, then search online for Canon MG5750 and decide which is better!

Outdoor activities

Children need to spend time in the wide world. This is where they learn to observe, see the beauty of nature and live in harmony with the world. That doesn’t mean throwing them out in the morning and hoping they come back in the evening, as some generations maintain they spent their childhoods. In truth, it’s a great opportunity for us, as parents to spend more time outside too, not to interfere, but just to be around.

Getting Our Kids Outdoors

One of the main reasons that we moved to the countryside back in September of last year was that we wanted the kids to be able to spend more time outdoors, surrounded by nature. Our house, as well as having big front and back gardens, is completely surrounded by farmland and footpaths which are perfect for exploring or going on an evening ramble after tea. Here’s a shot taken by Husband just this evening whilst taking Chuck out for his evening constitutional (isn’t it absolutely stunning?!):

outdoors

The thing is, Husband and I were raised during a time when it was completely normal for kids to play outside; we both remember leaving the house in the morning and only ever popping back for lunch and dinner, and we often comment about how sad it makes us that our girls will never experience the same sort of freedom. That’s why when I heard about the new campaign being spearheaded by Sudocrem and PlayMore, I knew I had to write about it.

Their research has shown that, on average, the modern child spends less than five hours a week playing outside, compared to over 11 hours for their parents’ generation.

Child psychologist Dr. Lindsay Ip explains, “Children today are more used to immediate gratification from technology and digital games than active, creative play in the outdoors and connection to humans and nature. That’s why we have a responsibility as a society to encourage our children to get outside and play. It’s important for their health and educational development.”

Based on this research, Sudocrem has teamed up with PlayMore to offer 10 nurseries across the country the chance to win £500 towards improving their outdoor play facilities, in an effort to get pre-school aged kids outside more.

Sudocrem’s Brand Manager, Nick Lang said, “Children love outdoor play but they’re bound to get stung by stinging nettles and scrape their knees. This is all part of the learning process for parents as well as children. A cuddle and a tub of Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can make a lot of things better. We’ve been healing skin for generations and we’re proud to promote the spirit of adventure with Play More.”

The reception classes at Sausage’s school have recently upgraded their outdoor facilities, including an astro-turfed area to allow year-round ball sports, mud kitchens to let kids enjoy messy play and a canopy-covered area so that they can still get fresh air during wet weather. It’s really refreshing to see the outdoor space being incorporated into the classroom in this way and I can’t wait to see how BB enjoys it when she starts school in a couple of years.

If you think your child’s nursery could do with improving their outdoor facilities, go to www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub and nominate.

Learning to Tell the Time

When I was little, I was pretty capable when it came to most things. I had great verbal reasoning and could catch on to most concepts with minimal effort (if only it were so easy as an adult!) but the one thing that I remember struggling with was telling the time. I lived with my Grandparents when I was 5 and they had this little clock on top of their telly, a proper 1970’s marvel with an oblong-shaped face and no numbers, plus the classic orange second hand that all clocks seemed to have when I was a kid, and I remember spending what seemed like ages staring at that clock with my Grandad trying to explain 20-past and 10-to, to me.

My Nan used to do this thing, I don’t know if it’s just a Southern idiom, or a London thing specifically, but she didn’t say ‘twenty-five past’, she said ‘five and twenty past’ – I used to find it really funny as it reminded me of the nursery rhyme where they say “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”.

Anyway, the time has come where Sausage needs to learn to tell the time and the best way for her to do this is to wear a watch, so we’ve been shopping around, trying to find one which would be good for her. So far, our favourite comes from The Watch Hut:

The Watch Shop

This ICE watch looks like it’d be really sturdy, but it’s still very pretty and the numbers are bright and easy to read. Sausage will absolutely love it and it’s something that she won’t outgrow in a hurry. We love being able to teach Sausage new things, and watch her absorbing and using her new life-skills. Telling the time is one of those things that seems so simple and second-nature to an adult, but is actually really important to know, so we’re intent on providing her with the right tools to do it.

What do you think of our choice? What would you choose, if you were us?

If you need any help with teaching your kids to tell the time, there are some great resources below which are full of great tips and advice:

The Guardian

Kids Activities Blog

Here’s an Android App which is very useful

And one for iOS

Learning is Fun: Animal Sizes

Since Sausage was old enough to hold her own head up, Husband has sat her on his lap at his desk and showed her pictures of animals on the computer. She’s always been fascinated by nature and as she grew we moved her learning on from visual-only stimulation to actually learning facts about animals and the natural world. The internet is an amazing resource and we love nothing more than when Sausage asks us about something and we’re able to sit and learn together using websites we love, such as Wikipedia and the National Geographic site.

One thing that can be quite hard to explain is the actual sizes of different animals. Most kids don’t have a concept of how big things are, so Husband and I started actually measuring things out with Sausage. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity as not only are you quantifying the knowledge you’re passing on about animals, you’re getting them involved with using numbers, tools such as tape measures and best of all, it fires the imagination like nobodies business!

Now that the weather is nicer, we’ve taken the game outdoors and have started marking things out in chalk, so whenever Sausage wants to know how tall or long something is, we mark it out on the patio. However, our patio is only so big, so we’re planning to take our tape measures to the park to measure out some of the larger creatures, like species of dinosaurs and whales!

What you’ll need.

All you need to do this at home is a patio, a tape measure, some chalk and the internet. Encourage your kids to think of different animals to look up, get them involved in measuring them out and drawing the lines. We’ve had hours of fun doing this and it’s free, educational and really fun if you get your imagination involved.

Starting left to right, the smallest line is Sausage’s height, for context. The next line is the wingspan of a golden eagle (Sausage was blown away that a bird could have wings wider than her height, which led to a conversation about other birds that are even bigger). The third line, in blue, is the average length of a bottle-nose dolphin and the longest line is the average length of a large species of crocodile!

This is a great activity for kids and you don’t even necessarily need good weather to play it (though it’s so nice to get some fresh air finally). We often measure the heights of things and I had fun standing on the arm of the sofa with Husband stopping me from falling off, to show Sausage how tall a particular species of pre-historic ape was! You can even get a stepladder involved to show the really tall things, just mind your head on the ceiling!

Another method of quantifying things for them is to weigh all of the members of the family and write them on a piece of paper (I recommend doing it in kilos as most animals weights are in kilos and it’ll save you having to do all of the conversions!). Using the “think of an animal…” starting point, get them to think of a creature, look up their weight and get the kids to work out how many times bigger than them the animal is, or how many times bigger than Mummy or Daddy, or Mummy plus Daddy, etc. It’ll get them exercising their maths skills and get the imaginations going even wilder!

Sunday