Hanging out with very young children

Hanging out with very young children

Getting language into the mix with 2 to 3 year olds

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These days of isolation are not easy when your young child wants to hang out, talk, play, climb the sofa, and there is little or no interaction with other children or family members!
I called this blog post “hanging out” rather than “planning activities” because young children (I am thinking of 1 to 3 year olds) play, imagine and create all day every day if they are given the freedom to do so. Planning a schedule of creative activities or fun games might be useful for a parent who is trying to work from home and making the most of the time spent with the child, but parents who don’t have a schedule don’t need to plan one for their toddler.
At this stage children are starting to say their first words and later they will start to put them together into short sentences. This is a really crucial time to explore the parent’s mother tongue in creative ways that work for your family.

Indoor play can be physical

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We are experiencing an unprecedented situation, as we have been asked to stay as far as possible from others, and possibly at home. Sometimes we think that working on language means sitting down and being focused, but actually language is in most of the things that we normally do. All we need to do as parents of bilingual children is to make sure that we are using as many opportunities as possible to use the language we want the child to acquire. 
Language time with toddlers won’t always involve storytelling or naming objects. It can be fun and spontaneous, and most importantly physical! Yes, we may be stuck indoors, but we can still throw small balls at each other and count to 10 in every language.  You can also hide an object and ask your child to go looking for it. While your child searches, you can give clues. If your child is talking, you can get them to give clues or to ask some simple questions (like “is it on the table?). At this stage questions may not be fully “grammatically correct”, but what you are aiming for is language practice, not perfection. Questions are not the easiest structures in many languages, so be patient and let your child make errors. There is no need for correction! 

Another idea is to do stretches together and sing a song or tell a story at the same time. I really like the Cosmic Kids Yoga, but to be honest I could never be as good as the “Cosmic lady” who tells really good stories while doing stretches that link to the theme (animals, weapons, you name it!). Having said that, it is possible to think small and do any sort of dance, stretch, movement around the bedroom or the kitchen while talking, singing or telling a story of your choice! 

Depending on how much space you have you can play parachute games at home too! Here you can see a teacher with a small group singing along and moving with the parachute.
There are many uses of a parachute, and again you can adapt the game to the age and the words your child knows. Most importantly, if you don’t have many people at home and you don’t have a parachute, a child’s duvet cover or a table cloth will do! While you play with the parachute you can use words such as “up, down; move to the right; move to the left” etc and also name objects, colours etc. There are endless variations of this game, and most children love it. Again, it is a way to be together, stay active and use language while having fun!
More suggestions coming up in the next blog!
Stay tuned and stay safe!
Dr Francesca La Morgia
Director, Mother Tongues

COMING SOON – 02/04/2020

The bilingual child

Live Webinar with Dr Francesca La Morgia - Part 1

How children become bilingual

What to expect in the first three years of life

Activities that boost language skills in early childhood

How Mother Tongues supports bilingual/multilingual families

The webinar is free for Mother Tongues Members. 

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