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What do you do to teach your child about diversity?

As you know I am a mother of two beautiful trilingual toddlers. By definition we are a very diverse and international family. I have a Portuguese/French background and my husband is from Peru. Our children have three citizenships, i.e. Australian, Portuguese and Peruvian. Better than a spy!!

I grew up in a very cosmopolitan city Paris. My neighbours and school friends were from all over Europe, North Africa and Asia, no Australians though…. too far.

For me, hearing so many different languages and seeing people with different traits is normal. I remember I used to love the end of the Ramadan celebration “Eid”. I am not a religious person but I loved when my neighbour shared the ‘Gazelle ankles’ (in French it is called ‘Gazelle horns’) and other delicious sweets. They were a good opportunity to know about their customs, religion, food and art. Have you been lucky enough to attend a Moroccan wedding? The bride wore 7 dresses. I thought getting the one dress right was already enough of a headache!

I loved Christmas meals at home because we had a Portuguese dinner on Christmas’s Eve and a French lunch on Christmas day.

I listened to music from Africa, Portugal, France, US, UK, Latin America, Spain even from Germany.

Multiculturalism was all around.

I came over to Perth 10 years ago to study a Master and it was my third trip to Australia. I have backpacked across the country. My first impressions of Perth as a resident were very different than when I had visited the city as a tourist. I had a cultural shock, shops closing at 5pm, few cultural events offered. I used to go and see a play, an exhibition or explore a museum every week end. Then I realised that instead of longing for the Parisian life I should take the opportunity to discover Perth and its cultural and outdoor attractions.

The one thing I did not expect is to meet so many South Americans and practise my Spanish so much. Most of my Latino friends migrate about the same I did. They mostly work in the Resources Industry. My wedding was like a UN convention.

I love it! My children have Spanish speaking playdates, we get to eat food, hear stories, sing songs, discover customs from all over South America.

I hear a lot about ensuring diversity at work mostly because I used to work for a mining company. By diversity, they mean getting enough important jobs for women, no discrimination due to personal beliefs or non-beliefs, gender, sexual preferences, etc… I agree with all this but I think that there is not enough emphasis on the significance of starting this discussion from earlier on.

I do believe that educating children early on on such issues as diversity, multiculturalism, challenges such as sexism, racism, homophobia will benefit the society by producing citizens with a better understanding of the world they live in, more tolerance, respect and curiosity about other cultures.

In France, you will never see a Christmas play in a public school because it is a secular country. However, when I studied German, every year we made an Advent Calendar and read Christmas stories as a German tradition.

Schools could do a little better to increase the exposure of children to other cultures. After all, this is where children interact the most.

I always loved the idea of having a special week celebrating the “World citizens”. Let people come and talk to the kids about their culture, their art, their music, teach a few words. Like a ‘Show and Tell’ day! What about giving assignments where children can do projects research on a country and its culture. Get them to interact with members of the community they are studying.

What can you do at home to expose children to other cultures?

Well, there is food. It is always a great idea to introduce new dishes.

There are games, such as world map puzzles, memory cards.

Books are my personal favourite. I show my children books on ‘Children around the world’ and ‘The alphabet from around the world’. They are of course in French. Books with foreign myths, legends and traditions.

There are other resources such as DVDs and TV shows like ‘Dora the explorer’, ‘Mouk’.

Music is also a great resource, which children does not like to dance to the rhythms of the drums or sing ‘Frere Jacques’?

There are always Festivals organised throughout the year where you can listen to music, see dances and traditional outfits. It is good opportunity to meet new people and practise your language skills.

Expose children to a foreign language by enrolling them in language playgroups or workshops. Not only their brain will benefit but they will get used to hear different languages and learn about other cultures from an early age. Young children do not judge, they just take things as they are. If it is fun, it is fun no matter what language people speak.

The State Library of WA organises a free international story time and a new country is presented each month.

Craft activities are a great and fun way to introduce a new culture. Each week, we publish on our Facebook page a craft activity from around the world. So far we made an ‘Arpillera’ from Peru, an African Drum and mini Paris cut outs perfect for role playing.

We can only enrich ourselves by learning from others. Why wait? Let’s open a window to our world.

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How to prompt a conversation with your children?

I found the article “30 questions to ask your kid instead of how was your day?” quite pertinent.

It is a great way to prompt and encourage a conversation with little and older children but it is also a great tool to use when one wants to keep practising the minority language.

When I read the article I realised that I was already using same style questions and you probably are too, such “What did you eat at daycare today?”, “Who did you play the most with?”. This is how i found out that my 3 year old often ‘ate’  whale.

I use open questions to encourage longer replies and I try to encourage descriptions to expand and develop his vocabulary. I also relate some events to stories that he has read. Associations are great tools too.

The key is to promote communication, an exchange between 2 people. Therefore limit the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions.

To read the full article click on the below link.

http://parent.co/30-questions-to-ask-your-kid-instead-of-how-was-your-day/

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Why Reading matters?

Reading matters for a variety of reasons, such as increasing literacy, general culture and IQs. Children tend to be more focused  and generally do better in school and professionally.

However one significant benefit is missing. It is the value of spending that quality time with your children. Several studies demonstrated that children liked to be read to even when they can read themselves. We all live busy lives and with the increasing use of technology at home, it gets more difficult to find time to spend with your children.

Reading books together is always a great way to maintain or reinforce bonds between parents and children. You can take advantage of some stories children can relate to to speak about difficult moments in life, such as the loss of a loved one or the arrival of a sibling. Let the story prompt some questions, for example “how do you feel about a little sister arriving soon?” or “What would you do if you were in the character’s place?”.

Use books to get kids smarter but also to develop social and emotional skills, such as tolerance, empathy, etc…

And as usual happy reading!

 

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This info­graphic was cre­ated for Harper Collins Chil­drens with Brand­point.

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Children’s book sales are booming

Great news! Children a reading more. The 5-8 are the most avid readers. The data come from an analysis from the US market and it interestingly highlights that there is more demand for diversity.

Children are interested in multicultural books. Just like Le Toboggan!

Click on the below link to read the full article.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/68083-nielsen-summit-shows-the-data-behind-the-children-s-book-boom.html

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Bilingual books are great resources.

Did you know that according to the 2011 Census data 18% of people in Australia spoke a language other than English at home.

Can you guess the top 10?

In decreasing order we have Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish, Hindi and German as the most spoken languages other than English. Are you surprised?

There is a variety of reasons why non-English languages are spoken at home and not only because of limited proficiency in English, for example one person of the couple may want to practise the non-native language, or both persons have migrated and speaking their home language is just more natural.

We have a couple of friends, he is French and she is Peruvian, they used to live in Perth and spoke Spanish at home. She was also fluent in French but he wanted to practise his Spanish.

Our own family is very “international”. I was raised bilingual Portuguese-French, then I came over to Perth to study a postgraduate degree at the university where I met my husband. He is from Peru. I am also fluent in Spanish, therefore it naturally became our home language.

When we had our children we decided that no matter what, they will learn their parents’ languages. This is why I speak Spanish to my husband and French to my children. My husband speaks Spanish to the children. None of us feels excluded because my husband understands and speaks French too. But why choose one language when we can teach more to our children and the beauty is that they are not at all confused. They know when and whom they can speak French, Spanish or English to.

We are both proficient in English but it just did not seem natural to speak English at home when we could speak each other’s native tongues.

At Le Toboggan we like bilingual books because they are great resources for parents who are raising kids in more than one language. But not only that, these books are also great for people learning a new language.

We can share the same book to tell the same story in 2 different languages. Our children get to develop and expand their vocabulary in both languages without translating. They already know the story in one language, they will learn the new words without any difficulty.

I get new books from the local library every couple of weeks and some days it is ‘hard work’ to adapt the English text to French or whichever language you speak at home. It is just relaxing to have the book already in your native tongue. You just have to read and not make up the story.

Reading bilingual books develops and reinforces languages skills and vocabulary acquisition.

Bilingual books are also great to keep children interested in the foreign language. It is a great way to introduce the culture and not just the language.

Bilingual books are a formidable tool for people wanting to learn a new language. Children’s books are ideal as they offer original and fun stories and the degree of difficulty increases with the reading age and proficiency.

This is why we would like to share our latest additions to our collections:

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Follow the adventures of Curious George or Jorge el curioso in ‘Curious George at the baseball game’, ‘Curious George visits the library’, ‘Curious George cleans up’, Curious George plants a seed’, ‘Curious George dance party’ or the little dog Martha in the Martha speaks collection.

Check our home page out for more bilingual books in English-French, -German, -Japanese, -Vietnamese, -Russian, -Italian and more…

Happy reading!

 

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Le Toboggan can come to you

Are you a playgroup or mothers’ group who would like to see what Le Toboggan’s books look like?

We can come to you. You can select books by age group and language or if you prefer we can assist with the selection.

With no obligation to purchase and free shipping if you do.

Email us at info@letoboggan.com.au for more information or to organise a display.

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Le Toboggan’s website is going live

This is it! Le Toboggan’s website is now officially available to everyone. A few clicks will reveal all the secrets of our books.

Le Toboggan is specialised in international children’s books. Currently, we offer carefully selected books in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and bilingual English/French, etc…

We are working towards bringing you quality books with original stories and illustrations that you might not easily find in Perth otherwise.

We are small enough to care about what you think; so do not hesitate to send your requests and feedback through. We promise to try our best to source what your children would like to read.

So far we have been communicating through our Facebook page www.facebook.com/letobogganbookstore and from now on we will also have the blog to keep you up-to-date on our books and children and multiculturalism related topics.

We will also be sharing some personal experiences about raising two little ones trilingual French/Spanish/English and would be happy to hear from you.

And remember it is never too early to introduce children to books and never too late to expose them to another language.

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