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Bilingual Babies!

There are many benefits to teaching children more than one language. Some of the benfits are: language coactivation (when you hear a word you don’t recognize, your brain automatically idenitfies it in both languages), the executive function is activated differently (different parts of the brain are activated in comparison to monolingual children and it transefers that information differently), it benefits the child’s self-esteem, and they have a deeper cognitive development. That being said, I’ve spoken to our son in Spanish since he was in the womb. I make it a point to only speak to him in Spanish and my husband speaks to him in English.

My son completed his first year of Pre-K Dual Language. We are really happy with all the work his teacher did with him. He can speak and listen without support. He knows his letters, numbers, colors, days of the week, and months in Spanish. He loves to sing and dance. He is not only proud to speak the language, but also proud of his culture. Now that summer is upon us, he only has me to speak Spanish with him.

It’s been a while since I’ve taught children Spanish, so I had to do some research on how to start Spanish literacy with him. I found some great resources online. I am focusing on the vowels first and then starting him on learning open syllables (for example, he is learning ma, me, mi, mo, mu this week). Here are some activities he is completing. We do about 20-30 minutes of structured literacy activities per day. The rest of the time is conversational and games. The key is to make it fun!

Tips for kids 0-5– read a lot in Spanish, name everything around you in Spanish, sing songs, read poems, and play games. If one parent is choosing to speak Spanish (or any other language besides English) to the child, do not switch to English. Your child has to know you only respond and they get what they in need in Spanish. Check out your local libraries for read alouds and sing alongs. It’s great modeling for your child.

Disclaimer- I do not expect my son to read this young. He’s very curious about reading, but I know he has more than 2 years to master it. It’s important for my husband and I to nurture his home language. So he will learn to read in Spanish first.

 

 

 

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Big Changes Mean New Beginnings

In the fall I started my new job, THE dream job. It’s everything I look for in a school and position. After everything else going on in life, this is a little piece God has given me to help me smile a little. Two months into work, I start getting allergies, very severe allergies. I don’t really suffer from allergies, but in the past few years, they’ve increased in severity. No matter what I take, they won’d quite go away. Now we are in later November and I am still suffering from allergies. The pharmacist tells me it’s a combination of severe allergies and a cold. So here I go with more medicine. I’m sleeping under a humidifier with essential oils in it. I notice some difference but not much. It goes away, but then comes back a few days later. Do I have to get back onto medication?

One week before Christmas break. I wake to dizziness and not being able to breathe. I am tired and feel warm. I grab my asthma pump and realize it’s expired. I literally never use it. My husband wants to wake our 4 year old son. My independent self says, “no I can uber there. Don’t wake him” Deep down I was worried, I didn’t know what was happening, but I didn’t want to worry my family. So off I go, messaging my husband through every step of the emergency room experience.  They check my vitals and do x-rays. By this time I am tired and weak. The doctor worries I am losing oxygen to the brain so he does further testing. Test results comes back, this is not the case, and I am put on a machine to clear my lungs. I am diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. I am prescribed a 5-day steriod. For anyone who knows me, I don’t like taking meds unless absolutely necessary. I am relieved that I have found the problem and now I will get better. So I thought!

One week later, we fly to California. I’m still tired and my chest is tight throughout our vacation. It was a rough trip health wise and emotionally. I’m just not feeling myself and it’s the first holiday without my mom. Now, living in New York, I’m used to many holidays where I celebrated with my mom over the phone. But Christmas 2018, She is physically not here. She is gone. That is heart breaking. I push through the holidays and 2 weeks into January. I’m sick again, with fever, cough, asthma, sinus issues, you name it. I started to connect the dots and realize that this is not just a cold. The doctor isn’t even sure at this point. She wants to send me to an allergist. Of course the allergist can’t see me for 2 months.

I decide to take things into my own hands. I follow a few health blogs and learn that certain foods can upset your stomach and are also high histamine inducing foods. Who knew! In return these causes sinus issues, etc. I decide to reach out to my accupuncturist Stephanie.  She is amazing! Stephanie starts asking me questions, “what’s changed, any big event happen?” Me…”hmmm no not really, I have a new job?” She keeps asking, then it clicks, in between tears I tell her my mom passed away. She starts explaining how the lungs and grief are connected and diet affects the amount of histamine in your body. She recommends regular accupuncture and cutting out all processed foods. At this point, I will stand on my head just to feel better.

And 4 months later, I am feeling much better! I no longer eat processed foods and only stick to fresh veggies, fruit, and protein. I have a pretty healthy diet in general, but I love my sweets and crispy snacks. It’s really made me think about what I eat and what I feed my family.

It also made me think about how emotional stress affects the body and shows itself in different ways. I hope my story will inspire others to focus on how grief impacts our daily life. Grief is a process and there is no time line for it. We all grieve in different ways.

I found a few blogs that really helped me focus on what can be triggering my allergies. If you are experiencing similar symptoms, check them out.

Amy Myers MD

https://www.amymyersmd.com/2017/10/histamine-intolerance/

With Love From Kat

Common Causes of Bloating and Digestion Problems

 

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Self-Love

Happy Valentines Day! What is everyone doing for this “Hallmark Holiday?” Florists hike up the prices and restaurants offer pre-fix menus. We all fall for it…ha! In all seriousness, I think it’s a great time of the year to touch base with our loved ones and do something extra special with them. Most importantly, having a little one has changed my view on how I show love. I show love to myself by taking care of myself, eating healthy, and doing things that make me happy. This allows me to give my best to my family and teach them that we have to love ourselves first before loving anyone else.

I created a self-love project with my son. I found this fun activity on a teacher website. It’s a sheet with a mason jar and it has line paper next to it. I asked my son what does he love about himself. My heart skipped a beat as I heard him say all these loving characteristics about himself. Next, I printed out mini hearts and he told me what character traits to write on the hearts. It’s a great way to work on self-esteem and check in with our children. I want to make sure my son is happy and that he knows how valuable he is in this world. “I am kindness. I want to give to people who don’t have food.” – 4 year old words- Happy Valentines Day!IMG_2204

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Am I getting it?

The last component of reading is comprehension. It’s about that time of the year where children are being pushed to read for meaning vs. reading for decoding. We want to have authentic conversations about the stories we read with our children. I made this fiction comprehension checklist and taped it on every child’s desk. This is great to have at home in a reading notebook, folder or on their desk. Click link . . . Fiction Comprehension Checklist 2

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Reading Plays is FUN!

Another component of reading comprehension is fluency, prosody, and expression. It’s so important when teaching comprehension. What a better way then to read short plays or fun silly poetry. I made fluency folders for my students. I laminated them so I can use them over and over. The kids love reading them with their group and in partners.

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Children can be better readers by . . .

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Do you ever read with your children and they skip words, mispronounce words, or add words that are not there? In order for children to have strong comprehension, we have to tackle the 5 components to reading. One component is phonemic awareness. Children need to know how sounds segment and blend together. As our young readers are learning how to decode words, it can get a bit tricky for them. I made this strategy book mark. They keep it in their book baggy and refer to it as needed. I provide 5 strategies over a course of a week. I model each strategy during a lesson. I teach my kids that as readers we need to have a “toolbox” of strategies so that we become better readers. Students begin to monitor their reading, their fluency improves, and their comprehension becomes stronger.

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Challenges Deported Children Face

This post is near and dear to my heart. As a daughter of an immigrant. I can’t ignore this “hot topic” being the times we live in and the controversy surrounding immigration. How does this affect our children emotionally and educationally? How can these children focus on education when they are torn away from their parents or sent to Mexico with their parents. They are sent to a place where they don’t know the language a lot of the times and the educational system is very different. I always hear people say children are resilient, they will be fine, but we have to remember that they are humans too. They have feelings and traumatic experiences impact their lives in different ways. I can tell you as a teacher, you can’t focus on the academics until the emotional behavior is addressed.

I recently read an article on NPR that talks about an elementary school in Tijuana, Mexico. At 20 De Noviembre School, teachers use a 50/50 second language immersion model. English speaking students are paired with Spanish speaking students. They learn social and academic language through discussions. English speaking students are not singled out because they do not speak the native language like it happens in U.S. schools. In addition to peer support, English speaking students meet with tutors and counselors once a week for further emotional and academic support. The article touches on the trauma these children are feeling when first arriving to Mexico. They express feelings of sadness and confusion. Again, we must think about how these children are being affected.

20 de Noviembre is a model for providing resources to U.S. students and helping them acclimate to their new school environment. I can not imagine what these poor kids and their families must be going through as they are torn from their friends and their community back home.

If you’d like to read this article, the link is below.

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/04/03/520547750/deported-students-find-challenges-at-school-in-tijuana

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Play With a Purpose

I try to structure my 2 yr 4 month old’s play. He will have specific activity to work on, but will also have some open play. Today’s activity is sand discovery. He rubbed his hands in the sand. He played with it a little bit. Once he was comfortable with the texture, I hid some of his toys in the tray. He loved searching in the sand and finding different objects. We played multiple times. Every time he pulled an object out of the sand, I took made sure he named the object in Spanish. It’s another creative and authentic way to include Spanish into our everyday life. I kept sneaking in new objects into his sand tray. After a while, he was hiding objects in there too.

 

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A World Full of Literacy

As a parent and educator, I try to think of real world experiences for my children. I try to make experiences relatable and fun. My son L- is learning Spanish. I teach him through play and authentic conversation. He is at the age now where he can do things on his own. He is very independent and loves showing us all the new things he can do. I decided to push that independence by labeling important areas of his room. This is a great activity for all children. I took pictures of specific areas around my son’s room. Then I printed them out, wrote the Spanish label on it (with the article) laminated them, and he helped me put them around the room. He had a lot of fun doing it. The best part is that, I labeled his drawers. So now he can choose his own clothes and dress himself. So make every literacy experience a fun one! Enjoy the pics.