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  • 13 Apr 2022 8:59 AM | Anonymous member

    By Cheryl Chepusova


    Why learn a heritage language?

    In our family, we have two children under the age of 5 and we speak four languages with them regularly: our community language, English, along with three of our heritage languages: Chinese (Cantonese Chinese and Mandarin Chinese) from myself and Russian from my husband. Before our children were born, my husband and I decided that it would be important for us to share our mother tongues with our children. Later on in their lives, our children may still want to study a foreign language of their choice, but their heritage language learning is about exactly that: heritage.

    While neither of us have a background in linguistics or education, we can still be our children’s most effective teachers, leveraging the trust and relationship we have with them to integrate a language we know into their lives. Sharing our heritage languages with them gives us another layer of expressing ourselves to our children so we never feel we have to translate or be at a loss for words. We teach our children our languages to build connections–with us as parents, with our relatives, and with our culture.

    But isn’t learning a language really hard?

    Deciding to teach your child a language is a long-term commitment and requires dedication and perseverance. It is very much a marathon – one in which you need to adjust your pace and direction as your child takes the lead. You already know the language, so the work is in how you add it to your life. Our approach to this has been to introduce the heritage language gently to our children, building it into our home naturally from the day they are born.

    Practical strategies we’ve tried at home

    Infants (0-1)

    • Start your relationship with your child in your heritage language. Many people recommend methods like OPOL (One Person One Language) or MLAH (Minority Language at Home) to provide guidance on when to use which language. Our family didn’t adopt either strategy and simply tried to speak to our children naturally and consistently in our native languages from birth. Both of our children have learned to code switch when talking to each parent and to each other, and the heritage language has become the default language we use before English.
    • Narrate and describe what you see and do. Get used to hearing yourself speak in your heritage language to your baby – they might not understand yet, but they already love listening to your voice. If you don’t usually speak your heritage language daily at home, this will allow you to warm up for when your baby grows older. It may feel like you’re talking to yourself, but the foundation you lay will set your child up to have conversations with you in a few years.
    • Repeat vocabulary and build them into routines. Infants thrive on routine and it adds structure to the day for parents too. You can help them know what to expect by repeating useful expressions like “milk” or “change” or “sleep” when you’re doing the action. They’ll hear it so much, repeated throughout their daily routine that these will be the first words they familiarize themselves with when they learn to speak.

    Toddlers (1-3)

    • Read a lot. You can read any material to your toddler in the language you want – picture books, magazines, menus, flyers...they can’t tell even if you’re translating it from English! Books in another language are hard to come by in the US or are expensive to import so make the best of what you have access to and read often. Visual dictionaries are a great format to introduce basic nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions in context, and gradually your child will learn to point them out on the pages too.
    • Sing nursery rhymes and teach language through music. Toddlers love music and singing is a great way to help them remember the lyrics. Nursery rhymes tend to be repetitive and include early learning concepts like numbers, colors, foods, body parts, or animals, and are wonderful starting points for building everyday vocabulary.
    • Give your child the words they need by echoing what they are trying to say. Toddlers will start to string together phrases and sentences, and they will constantly be acquiring new vocabulary. You can enrich their expressions by echoing what they’ve said and adding to it. For example, your toddler might say “look, car!” You can elaborate on that by adding “Yes, look at that blue car! That’s a really fast blue car.” If your child prefers to speak in English, don’t fret, instead recast what they just said so they can learn the words in a different language. Recasting is really effective, as more often than not, your child isn’t resistant to speaking in your heritage language, they just don’t have the vocabulary.

    Preschoolers (3-5)

    • Broaden vocabulary with interests and activities. At this age, you can move beyond everyday vocabulary in the home and help them expand their words in both breadth and depth, depending on what they want to talk about. If your child is fascinated by vehicles (like mine are) you can lean into their interest and introduce different types of vehicles and all their parts. Learn poems, follow a recipe, sing along to pop music…do whatever your child loves in your heritage language so that it’s impressionable. If you visit a zoo or farm, talk about all the animals–what they’re called, how you’d describe them, and what they are doing. Take a trip to the grocery store in your heritage language. Conversing in contexts beyond your home environment shows your child there is a place for them to apply this language in the community too. Don’t be afraid to get specific as your child is eager to learn about the topic they love! Celebrate your culture’s traditions and customs in the native language. Start to introduce older children to science and history too, just as you would in English.
    • Keep reading. Books offer an abundance of opportunities for discussion after. Each time you read it, a different part of the book may pique different interests. The format is dynamic and interactive. Reading together also sets aside time for connecting – even as your child learns to read independently, make it a part of your routine to read aloud to them.
    • Explore audio stories and videos. Nothing beats dialogue and interaction, so save any passive learning methods for later. Once your child has a firm foundation in comprehending and speaking, educational videos are a great way to engage your child and supplement their learning. Watch together so you can discuss the content and answer your child’s questions, helping them with any new concepts and words. We also love incorporating audio stories to our bedtime routine or on longer rides in the car too. Exposing them to different voices, pronunciations, and accents improves your child’s listening ability in the heritage language.
    • Find a community of support. Pair your child with a peer for play dates in the heritage language. Forming relationships with peers in the heritage language is a wonderful way to encourage your child to use it. For them to feel motivated to learn and use their heritage language, they have to feel a belonging to a community and connect with people they can use the language with. If in-person interactions are not available, explore virtual options like group classes, online 1:1 tutors, and language partners to continue to supplement your child’s learning. You’ll feel more supported and uncover many resources along the way from families with like-minded learning goals.

    Balancing the heritage and community languages

    As your child interacts with the larger community, their English skills will eventually catch up to or even overtake their heritage language. You can rely on your existing language relationship with your child, and gently nudge them to switch to your shared language by recasting, but don’t translate. Even if they might speak more English, stay the course. Inspire and encourage them to continue conversing with you about their interests.

    Continue to teach by modeling, echoing, recasting, but don’t test. While your child might not speak on the spot when you ask them to, they’ll also surprise you with beautiful long sentences you didn’t realize they knew. Language learning can feel more like a lifestyle and less like extracurricular, and that’s because teaching a heritage language is also about passing down your culture to your child. The language your child learns becomes a part of who they are, it’s more than a skill, and it can be a really special thing.

    Cheryl Chepusova is a designer, writer, and the author of the children's book series, Big Cities Little Foodies, and others.

    Photo by JACQUELINE BRANDWAYN on Unsplash



  • 2 Apr 2022 12:27 PM | Anonymous member

    Welcome our new members for April!

    • Avril G. has a seven-year-old daughter. They live in Foster City.
    • Katie S. has two daughters. Savannah is two-years-old, and Milli is eleven-years-old. She also has a son, Joaquin, who is thirteen-years-old. They live in Pacifica.
    • Kelsea A. has two sons. Emory is three-years-old, and Arya is two-months-old. They live in Daly City.
    • Kevin D. has a five-year-old son, Finn. They live in San Mateo.
    • Kristel B. has two daughters, Alondra is five-years-old, and Alessandra is two-years-old. They live in Millbrae.
    • Meghan B. has two daughters, and they live in San Mateo.
    • Mridula K. has a three-month-old daughter, Myra. They live in San Mateo.
    • Radhika T. has two children. They live in Burlingame.
    • Reka S. has a four-year-old son, Nolan, and a two-year-old daughter, Lena. They live in Millbrae.
    • Victoria N. has a four-month-old son, Phillip. They live in San Mateo.
  • 1 Apr 2022 12:07 PM | Anonymous member

    Happy birthday to all our April kids!

    Birthday

    Name

    Age

    05-Apr

    Cassidy O.

    1

    12-Apr

    Kian A.

    1

    14-Apr

    Evelyn D.

    1

    15-Apr

    Annabella R.

    1

    22-Apr

    Nora G.

    1

    02-Apr

    Charlotte R.

    2

    03-Apr

    Rumi S.

    2

    13-Apr

    Marty O.

    2

    17-Apr

    Zeya Z.

    2

    30-Apr

    Saskia R.

    2

    08-Apr

    Elle N.

    3

    12-Apr

    Lara W.

    3

    06-Apr

    Lillian E.

    4

    11-Apr

    William K.

    5

    21-Apr

    Valentina V.

    5

    03-Apr

    Max Y.

    6

    16-Apr

    Amelia L.

    6

    18-Apr

    Rosa W.

    6

    19-Apr

    Collette K.

    6

    19-Apr

    Owen L.

    6

    18-Apr

    Sophie R.

    8

    07-Apr

    AnnaBella P.

    10

    20-Apr

    William I.

    12


  • 26 Mar 2022 10:14 PM | Anonymous member

    One parenting goal is to help raise resilient and independent children. Fostering independence on the playground can be tough whether you have a daredevil toddler, willing to go where you're afraid for them to be, or a reluctant child who clings to your hand, unable to give you a break while they explore. No matter where your little one falls (no pun intended) on the playground skills spectrum, one thing all children benefit from is specific feedback and opportunities to explore, discovering their own abilities and limitations through play. One way we can encourage their development is to try to avoid using one of the most common adult warnings out there: Be Careful

    Be Careful, in the context of infants and toddlers, is a very abstract and nebulous term. We as parents can assess the dangers around a child, but a young child cannot comprehend what those might be. Often Be Careful becomes reinterpreted as "Stop"... but that begs the question "Why did I have to stop?" And further "What have I learned in this moment?"

    One way we can reframe playground talk for adults is to make a subtle shift whenever we have the impulse to say Be Careful into an opportunity to give feedback about how the child is interacting in his or her environment (slowly, fast, head first, unsteady) or draw attention to the environment itself (wet, steep, high, open) and then help our child navigate through the environment. We can also help develop executive function skills by specifically calling on them to communicate what they intend to do or how they hope you will be a part of their exploration. This shift helps reduce giving commands, which can result in a cortisol response and subsequent emotional overload and tantrums.

    Another subtle shift is complimenting a child when we see them being safe, drawing attention to their body in motion or at rest in a way that we hope to see repeated in the future. This positive recognition helps emphasize a particular movement, speed, or strategy that their growing brains benefit from -- such as identifying how to stop safely at an intersection on their scooter, or moving along an uneven surface. This strategy also limits compliments that can be as nebulous as Be Careful, such as Good Job (when said on its own). 

    These targeted communications as caregivers offer several positive benefits to our children's development; they nurture problem solving, expressive and receptive communication, body awareness for gross motor and fine motor skills, and provide opportunities for building resilience and self-esteem. We can point out how our child perseveres and overcomes while also helping them know that seeking support from an adult is not shameful and that we all learn at different paces.

    These graphics are jumping off points for your own chance to reframe Be Careful and shift into growth mindset language whenever your child is playing. Hopefully they will be useful to you and over time allow you to feel confident knowing your child is exploring the world safely, and you can sit back and chat with your own friends on the playground. 


  • 17 Mar 2022 12:04 AM | Anonymous member

    Independence builds confidence, and confidence builds independence. Independence opens the door to freedom, and freedom gives more opportunity to develop independence. Independence is a key to childhood development.

    To speak in practical terms, a child’s independence makes the task of parenting much easier. As a mom of 3, the simple task of getting onto the car requires each of them to have at least a degree of independence. I need them to take care of themselves.

    Now I don’t have much wisdom to share, except through my personal experience. I have also adopted a lot of Montessori thinking. Take what works and leave the rest.

    Start Now

    It’s never too early to start fostering independence, neither is it ever too late. First step is to convince yourself that deep down, underneath this toddler body or entitled tweenager, there is a human being hungering self-respect, curiosity, and growth. This may be hidden by a baby’s physical immaturity or an older child’s habit of reliance. But it is true. We all strive to be independent.

    Developing a child’s independence involves letting go. And you cannot let go if you do not truly believe that it will work.

    Prepare the Environment

    Even the youngest children are ready to exercise and grow their independent mindset. An important step to fostering that is to prepare the environment. The world is designed for adults who are 5-6 feet in height to live in. Children have to struggle with not only their developing fine and gross motor skills, but also giant houses, furniture, and cars. Some examples that come to mind are the faucet and the light switch. An easy fix to that is a step stool. What about a child’s clothes; is her closet organized in a way that she can access it? What about tables and chairs; are there child-sized spaces where he can focus on a task, whether that be eating a snack or putting together a puzzle? Are mornings too rushed to allow for time for her to dress herself? Look around you and spot the items that a small person would have difficulty physically handling. Hear the child saying, “Help me to help myself.”

    Intrinsic Rewards

    When children reach school age, there are certain things that we want them to achieve: ABC’s, counting, reading, addition, multiplication, history, science, sports, music, art, a foreign language. These being things that we ourselves might think of as “hard work,” we emphasize the external rewards that we, or the teachers or coaches, offer for successful completion. External rewards (such as sticker charts, ice cream, money) aren’t bad per se, but they do require an external being for delivery. For a person to develop independence, to do the hard work even when no one is looking, the person must recognize the intrinsic rewards for putting in the hard work. Intrinsic rewards develop intrinsic motivation.

    When recognizing progress, phrase it as a natural reward for the child’s hard work, not as a praise from you. “You can now read words with two syllables, not just one! That means you can read so many additional words!” When looking at a piece of work (whether completed or in progress), admire its beauty. “Your piano playing is music to my ears!” Emphasize the intrinsic value in character traits such as grit and integrity, even in failure.

    Let Them Struggle and Even Fail

    If you help a child every time he is facing difficulty, you take away opportunities for him to learn independence. The younger they are, the more you can let them fail. A child learning to walk needs to have a scratched knee. Have you ever watched a child try to fit in a puzzle piece? The 15 seconds of struggling may seem like a full minute. But hold back your hand! Remember that confidence develops from independence, not from not failing. “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed,” said Dr. Maria Montessori. This is different from, “Never help a child with a task where he is already successful.”

    As they grow, you do need to watch more carefully for truly unsafe situations. Physical and mental health and safety are a priority. But is not getting into a top Ivy League college truly an “unsafe situation”? I don’t know how I will actually react when senior year rolls around, but my hope is that I will be able to say to myself: it’s better to “fail” at college apps than at life as a whole.

    Show Them You’re Busy

    Everyone should contribute to the family. Yeah… but how do you make a child see that? In the child’s mind, you’re more efficient at everything (you are likely in fact 10x more efficient at toy cleaning than she is), so it makes sense that you do it.

    When you are working from home, or doing household chores, explicitly tell the kids that you are working. You aren’t complaining, or angrily making a list of things you do. You are simply sharing about your day, inherently being a role model for being independent. The benefit of having 3 kids is that I can often say, “I’m busy,” or “When I’m finished helping your sister, I will come to you. And while you’re waiting, try it yourself.”

    Additionally, you can explicitly tell them that you have already worked hard and would be grateful for them to do their part. If they can help with wiping the dining table, then you can focus on washing the dishes. If they can wake up on time by themselves, then your drive to school won’t be so rushed. Always say “thank you.”

    No Pain, No Gain

    Remember that fostering independence means that they are not yet independent. Intentionally fostering independence often does mean taking the less efficient way–I am the one who has a hard time holding back my hand, rather than waiting for my child to struggle with the puzzle piece–but it does promise greater gains in the long run.

    Daisy Yau, a new SPMC Board Member this year, is the children ministry coordinator at New Life Community Church, Burlingame. She is a mom of three and enjoys going to neighborhood parks.

    Photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash


  • 10 Mar 2022 9:15 PM | Anonymous member

    Pi Day is March 14! Pi, represented by the greek symbol π, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Draw any circle, and that ratio is always 3.14.

    According to Wikipedia, “Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. Pi Day is observed on March 14 since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. It was founded in 1988 by Larry Shaw, an employee of the Exploratorium. Celebrations often involve eating pie or holding pi recitation competitions.”

    Simply put, Pi Day equals yummy math. What better way to promote a love for math? Here we have compiled some kid-friendly pie recipes. Have fun baking together. And incorporate more math by having the kids do the measurements or unit conversions, keep track of baking time, and dividing the pie into equal slices.

    Kid’s Kitchen: Apple Pie at Sugar, Spice, and Glitter

    Easy Mini Apple Pie at Kidstir

    Mini S’Mores Pie at Mess for Less

    Kid-Friendly Raspberry Hand Pie at Driscoll’s

    Alligator Pie at Crazy for Crust

  • 5 Mar 2022 4:43 PM | Anonymous member

    Thank you so much for clicking through to our new blog! Welcome! Our Newsletter and Web Admin teams have been hard at work setting up our new format, and our Advertising Team has been finding ways to bring more value to our members and sponsors. 

    I’m including in this first message a small orientation through our new format. The first week of the month, you can plan to see our New Members, our Monthly Birthdays, and an overview of upcoming Events (or keep scrolling). Our first feature article will be up soon, and we will then have weekly articles that publish to the blog covering topics that matter to you. (Have an idea? Shoot us an email!)

    This month’s blog topic is one near and dear to my heart: fostering independence in young children. A friend of mine in Berlin told me once that his goal for his children was automation -- enabling them to be able to do as much as they could without him as early as they could. It looked super appealing; we sat at a cafe while his young children watched my two year old play on a playground. We laughed about how robotic this idea sounded, but parts of this plan stuck with us as we started our own family (especially now that there are a lot more moving parts).

    We soon learned that independence isn’t just automation, it’s about having a path for each unique child to feel valued, competent, safe, and involved in their routines of daily living. These skills may come more easily for some children than others, and even with an independent child, there may be areas where they require more support (potty training or daycare drop off). Sometimes the path toward independence requires early intervention from an occupational, physical, or speech therapist. Sometimes parents aren’t aligned in what independence looks like, and it can be stressful to try to navigate those conversations about safety, risk, protection, and expectations. Luckily there are some excellent resources out there to help find ways of promoting independence all through the infant and preschool years!

    Our upcoming baking event is a great way to explore playing to learn in the kitchen! We can all practice supporting our kiddos while they make something beautiful and tasty!

    Sincerely,
    Rachel Kammeyer
    SMPC President
    president@sanmateoparentsclub.org


  • 2 Mar 2022 12:08 AM | Anonymous member
    Please welcome our 9 new members this month:
    • Alexandra O. has a twelve-month-old son, Dante. They live in San Mateo.
    • Ashley O. has a ten-month-old son, Logan. They live in San Mateo.
    • Fei G. has a nine-month-old daughter, Nora. They live in Foster City.
    • Holly S. has a two-year-old son, Oliver. They live in San Mateo.
    • Jennifer B. has a three-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, and a two-month-old son, Brayden. They live in San Mateo.
    • Kent H. has a two-year-old daughter, Kelsey. They live in San Mateo.
    • Kyle B. has a six-month-old daughter. They live in San Mateo.
    • Marie L. has two daughters. Lea is four years old and Milla is three years old. They live in San Mateo.
    • Rachel C. and Marc have a daughter Charlotte (3.5yo) and son Graham (2.5yo). They live in Burlingame.


  • 1 Mar 2022 11:24 PM | Anonymous member

    Happy birthday to all our March kids!

    Birthday

    Name

    Age

    05-Mar

    Logan O.

    1

    09-Mar

    Maxwell L.

    1

    11-Mar

    Grayson A.

    1

    12-Mar

    Landon K.

    1

    14-Mar

    Grady B.

    1

    14-Mar

    Toby G.

    1

    23-Mar

    Vera M.

    1

    30-Mar

    Kaia K.

    1

    03-Mar

    Addyson F.

    2

    03-Mar

    Braelyn F.

    2

    09-Mar

    Julius D.

    2

    10-Mar

    Maggie N.

    2

    13-Mar

    William C.

    2

    15-Mar

    Cora P.

    2

    17-Mar

    Landon L.

    2

    21-Mar

    David S.

    2

    01-Mar

    Kellan S.

    3

    01-Mar

    Sierra Ruby G.

    3

    02-Mar

    Conor M.

    3

    08-Mar

    Julia B.

    3

    18-Mar

    Lindsay J.

    3

    19-Mar

    James M.

    3

    24-Mar

    Emory A.

    3

    28-Mar

    Andre R.

    3

    02-Mar

    Ayla A.

    4

    05-Mar

    Bodhi A.

    4

    05-Mar

    Bodhi S.

    4

    28-Mar

    Finley L.

    4

    07-Mar

    Maya G.

    5

    08-Mar

    Jacob L.

    5

    17-Mar

    Vivian D.

    5

    20-Mar

    Sahaana T.

    5

    11-Mar

    Brannock A.

    6

    18-Mar

    Finn D.

    6

    28-Mar

    Branson R.

    6

    21-Mar

    Aarya C.

    7

    11-Mar

    Benjamin L.

    8

    15-Mar

    Ava  T.

    16

    21-Mar

    David S.

    17



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