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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Toy Box With a Higher Calling . . .

          I am happy to report that we have been working on our Mandarin more at home the last 2 weeks!  As a teacher, I know that a parent's attitude toward learning and academic encouragement are crucial to a student's success.  Therefore, I know that Mandarin cannot only be a priority during Language Stars* class time, but it needs to be made a priority at home, too.  So, we pulled out our little books this week and I ordered the workbooks that accompany them.  We've been doing the workbook pages (some of them are cut-and-glue, my favorite!) on our "down days" when we have more time.  In fact, my older two were BEGGING to do some workbook pages last night.  Imagine that!  

       But, I also need to think more about just incidentally using the language.  For example, take a look at this picture from our Language Stars* Parents and Tots class this week:

Objects that encourage language development
       What do you see?  They seem just like random toys, right?  But they aren't.  To me, it's not a toy box, but a "vocabulary box."  The items were chosen specifically to elicit as much language from the child as possible, as well as from the teacher, I suppose, so that the child can hear the language.  There are colors; various vehicles; little people (girls and boys); different shapes; animals and common "child" items pictured on the blocks; as well as objects that can be used to illustrate prepositions such as under, over, in, and on.   They are all in one big box, presented to children at the beginning of the class during a powerful "play" time filled with language.   

       I have to ask myself, where's our "vocabulary box" at home?  Some of it is currently on the refrigerator.  We have a set of magnetic animals.  I put a few out so we can practice their names in Mandarin.  Box items are also on our bookshelf.  While we do have some books in Chinese, I should take my cue from Language Stars* and just use the  English book to review Mandarin vocabulary--or, as much as I know, anyway.  My "vocabulary box" also consists of the Halloween decorations we just put up.  My youngest son and I have been using these to practice colors, although I also need to learn a few more words like "ghost" to go with it.  

      So, this week, my goal is not only to keep up reading the little books to my kids and doing the actually engaging little worksheets I bought, but it's also to keep in mind the "vocabulary box" and it's purpose.  I need to go around the house, gathering materials that I can use to teach and reinforce vocabulary (even if I have to look up a few words).  I need to remember to use the words while we play together, eat together, and get ready for bedtime.  My support and interest in the language will help determine their success.  So, just as math and learning to read in English are stressed in our home, Mandarin has to be, as well.  A "vocabulary box" is a great place to start.   

Thank you so much for reading, 

*We receive 50% off our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  

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