How do your minority language family members and friends help you from a distance? Feel free to share ideas...here are a few using Skype from a blog post I just found on the multilingual parenting facebook group:
English speaking Canadian Mom, French speaking Dad, transitioning to minority language at home (English) with our daughter in France. Our daughter is doing great with English:) recently our son was born.
We regularly skype with my mom and occasionally with my dad (divorced grandparents). My mom usually knows what we've been up to recently through my regular phone calls and she'll ask our daughter questions, pretending she doesn't know. My daughter (who has a lot of trouble holding still during those calls) often runs off to bring back various objects to show grandma or grandpa.
So far, we haven't done any "strategic" things like the family in that link, but I think it's a great idea.
As I expect she'll start learning to read and write at school next year, I'm going to ask both my parents to send her letters (and in my dad's world traveller case, postcards) written in print letters that she can read herself.
I still remember when I was little and my dad (already world-travelling then) sent me postcards from all over the world. First, he'd write in his normal handwriting and my mom read them to me, then when I learned to read, he'd print in capitals so I could read them, and later, he switched back to his regular handwriting. I think I still have all these cards somewhere. That was great. Even though there was no second language involved, I saw him rarely, and the cards were a great way to connect.
I just remembered Annika Bourgogne (also a member of this forum Annika Bourgogne) wrote in her book on her experience with bilingual children about how her girls would skype with their ml grandparents.
We do Skype dates about once or twice a week with my parents and sister/niece/nephew. We just talk and my daughter will come over an say hi and talk to her cousins, but it's mostly me doing the talking still. She does enjoy looking at her grandparent's cats though, but other than that she is not really interested. I don't really want to do it more often though, as it is very time consuming and we're often doing other things in the morning anyways. Some good ideas, though.
We do FaceTime with the grandparents and sometimes uncles/aunts/niece.
Like Jo, it's me doing the talking with my family but that way, Sam still listens to us.
My parents always sing at the end, usually the same two songs with gestures and Sam makes the moves too.
The other granddad has a "finger game song" (in Punjabi, which we are not trying to teach our son but I'm just telling it to show what you can do too) that he sings and my husband makes the fingers with Sam and tickles him. And at the end, everyone laughs.
We take full advantage of Skype. I did realize that there have to be some key understandings to make it a workable arrangement.
1. It has to be scheduled. My parents know that we call every Sunday morning, and so do the kids. Because there is this agreement on time, both sides are available and it's done regularly.
2. It's treated as a visit and not as a phone call. I've deduced this by seeing how both sets of grandparents handle the Skype session. One set of parents expect to have a phone call type engagement. The kids have to be there in a picture, ready to talk and vigorously engage, and be quiet when the grandparents talk to the adults. These calls end in disaster. Kids don't want to sit there and wait their turn to talk. The other set of grandparents, luckily the minority language ones, handle it as they would an in house visit. They sit and chat with me while kids run in and out of the picture. Sometimes we chat as the kids do a separate activity, like painting or playing with Playdoh. These calls tend to go much better and last much longer. And of course because the kids aren't forced to talk, they often run into the picture to tell the grandparents their super important news.
When we used to live one timezone removed from my parents, we used to call them every day. After dinner, we'd call just as my mom would come home from some activity - horseback riding, yoga, tai chi and so on. Natalie would always ask about it and ask her to show some exercises they did. A game of exercise Simon Says would usually follow. I always felt that the scene of a 4 year old standing in front of the TV and doing tai chi with grandma over Skype was the ultimate realization of how technology has changed our lives for the better.
Sadly we are 3 hours removed now, and it's bedtime for my parents by the time the kids finish dinner. Still, at least weekly, we chat. Daycare teacher reports that both kids talk about their Russian grandma all the time.
Those are really great ideas! Hoping to use them in the future.
In our house we are keeping it very informal for now and only once a week. My kid is 17 months. Both my parents are still working and we are 2 hrs apart. I usually text grandmom "Skype now?" and she will either say "yes or what about this time?"
When the time comes I bring the laptop to the playroom where my busy toddler is. Me, grandparents and whomever is visiting them do most of the talking (the talking is about him of course!), while my son says hi, babbles, shows his toys or does whatever he wants to do while playing. He does not get bored though; which is the only thing I am expecting from him for now.
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We don't use Skype that often, about every two months or so.
But when we do, we try to prepare the children by talking about what they might want to share with their ml grandparents. Then we help them make sure they know all the words they need to communicate their thoughts.
This also gives the children something to look forward to, a goal to put their limited ml2 skills to a good use.
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Jan 6, 2023 20:02:18 GMT 9