What?! might be your reaction to this but let me explain. While we lived in London, away from our families, our support network consisted of close friends and a babysitter who we occasionally used when we wanted to head out for a dinner just the two of us. And that didn’t happen very often at all, she was more of a back-up when I had some work commitments and neither of us was able to be with her during the day. So, naturally, she came with us everywhere we went and travelled and it never occurred to us that we could have left her home with our nanny for a night or two if we felt the need to escape. Maybe we just didn’t need an escape… 🙂Continue reading “My second time ever spending a night away from our daughter”
While I was studying child psychology, one module, speech development, was of particular interest to me because we’re raising a bilingual child – she speaks Estonian and English. I did a lot more extracurricular studying for that module and would like to share some myths out there and also draw some real-life examples from our own lives.
Myth #1 – Bilingual children have speech delays
Some children do start speaking later so there are no hard and fast rules they are the bilingual ones and even if there is a delay, it’s just temporary and by school age the differences usually even out. Just so you know what the speech milestones are, here’s a useful table I found. I’m sure there a different versions out there and not all can be 100%, for example, she can name the main colours and counts to 20 in English and 10 in Estonian at three years of age.
Now, speaking from experience, I do believe our daughter’s speech is slightly delayed compared to her peers. Her English speech isn’t as clear or fluent as her friends’ in London and she’s only picking up Estonian phrases since she started kindergarten when she turned three this autumn. I’ve spoken in Estonian to her since her birth but she repeated or remembered only a small portion of words but I’m confident that because I was so insistent in speaking in my mother tongue, she has a perfect understanding of it. And often this is the first huge step towards mastering a new language. I wasn’t too worried when she started state kindergarten in Estonia, I knew she would understand everything, it’s the other way around that concerned me a little, but turns out it’s been going quite smoothly. She has new words, phrases and songs weekly, if not daily! Whether I understand everything she says is a different matter. Also, rather than switch between two languages, she often mixes them up and creates the funniest sentences and she speaks with an accent!
Here’s a wild thought – could her slight delay be because Estonian is such a hard language to learn? I’m really not making this up because according to research based on Foreign Service Institute’s rankings it’s the most difficult Latin alphabet based language to learn for a native English speaker but of course, learning a language is subjective, it also depends on one’s memory capacity and motivation. Still, just saying… 😉
Myth #2 – Bilingual children mix the two languages
Most do while they sort out both languages in their heads. Normally, one of the languages has a stronger influence and the minority language will inevitably borrow words from the majority language vocabulary but again, experts agree on this, that it’s temporary – as the vocabulary improves in both languages, the mixing disappears.
Even bilingual adults mix the languages and I’m a living example. After being abroad for 16 years I speak a dreadful Estonglish, quite often I struggle with the Estonian equivalents and just use English words instead but I’m getting much better as I’m more exposed to Estonian again.
As I already mentioned, her Estonian has come by leaps and bounds since starting Estonian kindergarten and I’m glad I didn’t put her in an international one. The aim while we’re living here is for her to pick up Estonian better than I could have ever taught her. I’m now really curious to see (hear) how her speech develops and at what point she will naturally switch between speaking in English to my husband and in Estonian to me. Until then, I get this: “I magab here”, “I käisin pissil.”, “It mahub!” and so on…
Myth #3 – It’s too late to raise your child bilingual when they’re older
Yes, it’s true that learning a second language is easier for children under 10, and even easier for children under five, compared with how much effort it takes for adults. Studies show that after puberty, a new language is stored in a separate area of the brain, so a child has to translate or go through their native language as a path to the new language. But it’s never too late! It’s just easier to start earlier.
We are raising a bilingual child by choice. I spoke to her in Estonian before we knew we were moving here so I always knew I’d want her to speak this unique sounding language. A tiny population uses it but would you not want to stand out just because of it? Also, being bilingual has some real advantages – bi- and multi-lingual people are better at observing, multi-tasking, and problem solving. They have a larger working memory even for tasks that don’t require language skills.
If you only speak one language at home but can command another one (something that isn’t taught widely at schools) very well, why not introduce it to your child before they pick up a third or fourth language at school? Here’s a tip though – you need to be very consistent and having them watching TV in Spanish and hoping something will rub off won’t quite cut it. It’s good to have some structure through your daily conversations that are meaningful and connected to real life situations. Story time is a good option and learning songs or playing games in another language as well.
And some further reading to those interested – a great article on what clinicians need to know about bilingual development.
To have another language is to have another soul.’Charlemagne
When I moved back to Estonia last year I noticed lots of mum mentioning how tired they were. At the same time people looked at me funny when I put my then 2-year old to bed at 7-8pm. That’s how ‘selfish’ I am, because I want to live my own life too.Continue reading “Mothers, don’t be afraid to ask for help”
I’ve just finished child psychology studies and received Level 4 Diploma via distance learning from the UK. I studied it so I could understand my child better. It gave me a good foundation and further interest to keep exploring some subjects deeper.
“Instead of training children to meet the expectations of adults, we should be training adults to meet the psychological, emotional, and developmental needs of children.” – Zoe TolmanContinue reading “How you can use child psychology to understand your kid better”
Eelmises eestikeelses postituses kirjeldasin, kuidas me elusse Eestis sulandume ja kuna olen veel lapsega kodune, siis olen hakanud pingsalt ostma ja lugema kohalikke ajakirju, mis on peredele suunatud, et rohkem aru saada, kuidas siinsed emad elavad ja mis on väikelaste emadele aktuaalne. Continue reading “Miks nii paljudel (emadel) on tass tühi?”
Last Friday Estonia announced a lockdown due to the spreading of COVID-19 until 1st May. Schools closed for two weeks today, concerts and other public events are either to be postponed or cancelled, if possible, people should work from home, strict entry controls have been put in place at all airports, seaports, and land borders. Play rooms, spas etc. are also closed till further notice. Restaurants, cafes operate on individual basis, there’s no set rule for that. Yet. Small businesses are suffering, we just don’t know to what extent. There’s a slight panic buying (toilet paper for all things like everywhere else…) but I‘m just glad that our government has taken this decision, people have guidelines and rules to follow, compared to what seems like a slight chaos back in the UK.
For the past week or so my almost 2.5 year old daughter has started napping for only about an hour. She falls asleep within a few minutes so I know she’s tired enough and still very much needs her nap but a few weeks back she was such a brilliant napper that some days I’d have to wake her after two hours and she’d still be fast asleep and now… my break during the day is getting shorter and shorter and I already miss it dearly. Continue reading “My toddler needs less sleep. Send help!”
Why have I chosen gentle parenting? I didn’t know what kind of a mother I was going to be but from day one I instinctively followed her cues day and night instead of forcing my own ways or strict schedules. I enforced gentle sleep routines and respected her way of doing things however stressful I found them. I didn’t follow any rules and how to guides, I followed my heart. It’s parenting with empathy, understanding and setting boundaries.
We eat out with our daughter very often and we started (read: continued doing what we always liked to do) when she was a newborn. This meant sometimes one of us had to hold and rock her while the other gobbled down the meal in a hurry. My husband works from home a lot so it’s important for him to get out of the house once a day and most likely we’ll end up in a restaurant somewhere.Continue reading “Eating out with a toddler – dos and don’ts”
As a stay at home mum to a toddler who doesn’t go to a nursery yet (she’s going to be two years old very soon) I feel I have more pressure on making sure she gets enough stimulation via play time and interaction with peers. Continue reading “Mum guilt – I don’t do enough!”