Yoga – Expanding the Boundaries of Global Children’s Minds, Bodies and Vocabulary!!

Namaste!

Yoga brings to mind relaxing, serene and healthful thoughts. Although I am not a yogi, I felt compelled to introduce my children to yoga when they were just toddlers. They both took to it instantly at the age of two. They attended Elahi Yoga Studio for infants, toddlers and kids in NYC.  It was a fun and playful way for them to explore and exercise their minds and bodies. It was an environment in which they felt at home, played, imagined, learned, relaxed and were plain happy. They practiced their breathing and poses and learned to concentrate in the most natural, soothing and supportive setting. Thanks to the non-competiveness of yoga, they understood it was alright to make mistakes or not be able to keep a pose as long as their friends. It was all about fun and self-discovery. They quickly discovered that their bodies could easily do some poses and with practice, their bodies could do other more challenging poses. Ergo, self-discipline. With every new pose, their self-esteem was boosted and their self-confidence was increasingly evident.

Yoga was great for their minds and bodies, and in hindsight, I can say that yoga was a way for them to learn more about other languages and cultures and gain a broader understanding of the world they live in.

An added bonus: yoga helped them excel in other physical activities and sports.

Mind, Body and Family Fun:

The animated poses such as tree, dog, cobra, windmill and table helped them understand their own strength, flexibility, coordination as well as body awareness. They learned how to focus and concentrate at an early age. Yoga is a family-friendly activity and much fun can be had. If you are a yogi parent, you can enjoy your portable passion with your children everywhere you go. If you are merely a “spectator”, you can celebrate your child’s progress everywhere they go.

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Family Fun – Mother Daughter Yoga

Vocabulary in the Target Language

The  child-friendly names of all the poses lend themselves to a fun and interactive way to learn words in a target language. For example: cat, bridge, table, waterfall, butterfly, bird, tree, squirrel, hero, candle, frog, dog, windmill and airplane are all words in a toddler and pre-schooler’s vocabulary.  We practiced these poses regularly AND practiced the words for the poses in French, German and Spanish – and still had fun!!! This is an easy way to complement your children’s language acquisition and reinforce vocabulary!!

They also learned to say a few words in languages they did not know, such as the Hindi words “namaste” “om shanti” and “chaturanga” and the Persian word “elahi.” Learning words in a different language typically  motivates children to learn more words and to stay onboard their language endeavor!!

World Instruments:

The Singing Bowl was one51teCzagt8L._SY450_.jpg of their favorite instruments. when they went to Yoga. It is an intriguing instrument with an unusual sound that undoubtedly captures children’s attention. They learned that it originated in Tibet – which in turn, piqued their curiosity as to geography.   Available on Amazon.com31VS1EYiEHL._SY450_ (1).jpg

The Rain Stick sparked interest in geography as well.  I have had multiple opportunities to stop with my children and listen to an Andean group of musicians play at major NYC subway stations. My little ones were always able to quickly identify the Rain Stick as one of the musical group’s instruments. Making the connection between their Yoga class and the Andean music made the experience so much more memorable for them.  Also available on Amazon.com

Physical Activities and Sports 

Yoga became the precursor to Tae kwon do for my older child, while my younger child has expressed an interest in taking up Fencing. Both Tae kwon do and Fencing require, the flexibility, strength, concentration, balance and coordination they already bring to the table. I find it interesting how they both gravitated to activities that require the skills they have already keenly developed.

The physical flexibility that children develop while practicing yoga, allows them to endure the challenges to the various muscle groups involved in learning Tae kwon do, Fencing and Gymnastics. Yogi children will be aware of their bodies and understand how their muscle groups function which are key elements in physical activities and sports such as Martial Arts, Fencing and Gymnastics. Balance and coordination are fundamental in yoga as well as other physical activities and sports. Accordingly, the cute balancing poses yogi children proudly display as preschoolers actually promote the mental and physical poise necessary in future physical activities and sports.

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One proud yogi/martial artist!

It is said that yoga helps provide building blocks for the future. In fact, in our case, it did very early on in my children’s lives. I never imagined all of the exciting benefits yoga would offer my boys when I signed them up for their toddler yoga trial class!!!

My blog is dedicated to providing inspiration and resources to and for parents, caregivers and teachers when looking for ways to complement a child’s language learning. To read some of my many blog posts that discuss this topic, please click here, here , here and here.  My tips are applicable in any target language, so I welcome you to read the various tips I have provided for the various World Languages I blog about.  Enjoy!!

 

Namaste!

 

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Global Children Learn about the German Influence in the USA

German American Heritage Museum of the USA

The German American Heritage Museum of the USA, located in Washington D.C., celebrated their 5th year anniversary on Saturday, March 21st. I recently discovered this museum, and if your children are German speakers or German students, and of course if your heritage is German or you are raising world citizens you will likely make this museum a stop on your itinerary the next time you visit D.C. 1000px-Flag_of_Germany.svg

During the festivities on Saturday, children were entertained with live music, fun and games and snacks. Adults participated in events such as viewing the museum’s documentary, “100 Years of Hollywood” that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opening of Universal Studios in Hollywood by German-American, Carl Laemmle. Click this link for a sampling of the schedule of events on March 21st

Fun Ways to Teach Children the German Language and Culture 

Although the German influence in the United States is not as prevalent, as let’s say the Irish and the Italian, it is quite easy and fun to highlight German themes to our budding world citizens. Fun, child-friendly, family events such as last weekend’s Märchen-Festival at NYC’s Galli Theater is another example of how children can participate in activities such as face painting, enchanted crafts and a “Mini-Theaterkurs” and learn about the German language and culture in a an authentic learning environment.

Other fun ways to teach global children about Germany include:

1. Telling your children fun trivia stories.  I told my boys, early on, when they started wearing Adidas and Puma athletic wear, the story behind the German-born, innovative brothers Adi and Rudy Dasler. Adi named his company ADIDAS after his own nickname and last name (Adi Das). His brother, Rudolf, named his company RUDA, after his own name and last name (Ru Da) before changing it to PUMA. Also interesting, is that  “puma” is the word for cougar in German, as well as other languages, such as Spanish, French, Russian, Romania, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Czech, Swedish, Bulgarian, Danish, Norwegian, Serbian and Slovene. (according to Wikipedia)

2. Talking about German cars as you drive on the highway and the origin or meaning of the company names. German sports cars such as Porsche (a character on the Disney-PIXAR’s movie “Cars”) and German Formula-1 race drivers will always capture a boy’s attention.

3. If your child is familiar with classical music via the Disney Baby Einstein and Little Einstein series, or just because classical music is appreciated  at home, then they will enjoy discovering that Beethoven, Bach, Brahms and many others were German.

Kaffe und Kuchen

Kaffe und Kuchen – Lecker!!

4. Enjoying “Kaffe und Kuchen” with good friends and their children. This ritual also referred to as  Kaffeeklatsch is still quite common in Germany on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Our very gracious, German-American friend likes to explain to her own children and guests the names of the German cakes and cookies she serves as well as play engaging word games and guessing games with the kids at the table for an authentic German experience.

5. Finding and highlighting some English words and expressions that are German or akin to German. (i.e. hound, rectangle, Gesundheit, kaput, Wiener, hamburger, and Fußball). Children find these relationships between words and languages “funny” which will help them remember vocabulary words and roots more easily.

 

Always remember to keep your language endeavor fun. What do you and your family do to keep your language plan fun?  

 

 

Au Pairs – Our Partners in Language Learning

I have briefly described my family’s experience with two of our au pairs in my posts about Crêpes and Language Teaching Tools for Babies (Tool #7). In those posts, I promised to elaborate more on the topic of au pairs at a later date. So, in the spirit of keeping my word, I will share with you one of the most valuable, enjoyable and long-lasting tools I have implemented in raising my children to be multilingual world citizens. This tool encompasses Passion, Partnerships and Planning (3 P’s from my Formula for Raising Bilingual Children)

Parents-to-be who are developing a language plan for their family as well as parents currently following a language plan and considering options to support the bilingual upbringing of their children may find this post of interest.

Au Pairs are young adults (male or female) who travel to other countries to join a family and offer their services as in-home child care providers.  In the USA, they typically stay for a minimum of one year in exchange for a stipend and a rich cultural exchange. In some cases, au pairs are not the sole child care provider, but as agencies advertise, “au pairs can be an extra set of hands” for stay-at-home parents. In my experience, au pairs have potential to be much, much more than merely “an extra set of hands.”

Welcoming au pairs into our family proved to be instrumental in our endeavor to shape our children into world citizens and nurture their love of languages.  Our au pairs (with the exception of one) spoke fluent English upon arrival and hailed from Brazil, Japan, Spain, Germany, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, and France. And some of them were trilingual. Both my husband and I, as well as our boys learned many intriguing facts about our au pairs’ respective countries, and our au pairs, in turn, discovered a great deal about the culture in the USA and about themselves during their stay.

Surfing tips from our Okinawan au pair!

Surfing tips from our Okinawan au pair!

Making a Spanish tortilla at home!

Making a Spanish tortilla at home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did Au Pairs help us further our goal of raising multilingual world citizens?

1. They shared a passion for languages and were genuinely interested in supporting our family’s goal of raising multilingual children.

2. They partnered with us and proactively planned activities that exposed our children to other languages and cultures.

3. They helped develop our boys’ palate and piqued their interest in tasting different foods by sharing their culinary traditions.

4. They were young, fun-loving role models for our children who saw in them a genuine interest in studying languages and their desire to learn about other cultures.

5. They embodied world citizenship, and to this day continue to influence our boys and help shape them into world citizens.

Thanks to Brazil's flag and this awesome T-Shirt, his favorite color has been green!

Thanks to Brazil’s flag and this awesome T-Shirt, his favorite color is green!

Some Fun Tidbits About Our Au Pairs:

1. Our Brazilian au pair started taking an on-line German class to keep up with my son’s German language acquisition and ultimately traveled to Germany, staying for a year and becoming fluent in German!

2. Our Spanish au pair had used Muzzy to complement her English studies as a child (20 years ago) and loved that she knew the characters, the plot and the songs and could join right in with my boys when they watched it in Spanish!

3.  Our Japanese au pair, who was an avid basketball player in Japan, introduced our boys to basketball and taught them everything they know!

 

 

To learn more about how to leverage the Cultural Exchange and Language features of the au pair experience, please visit the Consulting and Coaching tab of my blog and submit your request for a complimentary consultation about Au Pairs.