Jacob Sings The Alphabet...In French

Reuben and Jacob started back at school this week after the Christmas break. We had a slightly wakeful Sunday night which was either pre back to school nerves or the almost full moon. After a couple of days however they were well back into the swing of things. On the 2nd January Jacob turned 3 years old. He's in the tout petit section of the maternelle (nursery) and goes every morning. He's been attending since September last year and heads straight for the lego table in the morning and waits at the door with smile on his face when I pick him up for lunch. He's happy, he's made friends, despite the fact that he started with no French whatsoever and probably doesn't understand a lot of what is being said.

He's been coming home this week singing the alphabet...in French. His nursery teacher is pretty cool and has his guitar set up in the corner of the classroom ready to sing with the children a medley of songs in French and English. Having your English 3 year old come home from nursery singing in French sounds like an achievement, and it is. But in the back of my mind everytime he sings it I can't help but wonder if he also know how to sing the alphabet in English, and if he doesn't, it's because I've failed to teach it to him.

And so begins our first challenge as parents with children growing up bilingual. This has highlighted that it's not just enough to go about day to day thinking that talking to our children in their mother tongue is enough. If we want them to be fully bilingual we're actually going to have to actively teach them...a lot. When they come home from school with phrases and words in French we're going to have to teach them the equivalent in English. The songs that they sing in French, are there English versions that we can teach them alongside? Being 5 Reuben has had a head start with his English language (he knows how to sing both alphabets, I checked yesterday!) But many have told us that being so young, Jacob's French may end of being better than his English, and I can see now how easily that may be the case. Reuben is starting to show an interest in learning to read. I know they haven't started that in nusery so now is the time to give him a head start in reading English before he starts his formal French education next academic year.

Having bilingual children is a theme that will run regularly on this blog as our boys continue to learn. I know that there are many parents out there with multilingual children. Did you ever have a moment where you realised how much work you would have to do as a parent in keeping more than one language alive? What tips do you have for young language learners?

Seychelles Mama Linking up with Seychelles Mama and her 'My Expat Family' linkup!

Expat Life with a Double Buggy
Also linking up with Expat Life With A Double Buggy!

Memory Jar

As much as I like to look forward at this time of year I think it's just as important to remember the time gone by. Too often I get that feeling that time goes by too quickly and other than photos (which too often remain in files on the computer never to be seen again) I was on the lookout for a simple way to keep a record of events throught the year.

A great idea for remembering happy family times is to create a memory jar. I found a large jar and labelled it, and have left it in a prominent place so that it is not forgotten about. Over the year the aim is to write down any memorable moment or event and store it in the jar. At the end of the year we can open it together as a family and read about all the happy moments that we have experienced throughout the year.

Ours is already starting to fill up with memories of Reuben and Jacob's first guitar concert on New Year's Day, making homemade pizza, and seeing the first full moon of the year. I'm looking forward to the whole family adding their memories throughout the year and opening it up next New Year's Eve!

Have you ever filled a memory jar? What was is like to open it up at the end of the year?

Family Goals For 2015

Happy New Year! We're excited to be at the start of a New Year and with the kids back at school today we're slowly gearing our minds towards work. We've been taking it easy since arriving back home from our Christmas trip to London. Yesterday we took time out to sit down as a family and think about what we would like to achieve over the coming year. I first saw the idea of a 'Family Focus Collage' here and thought it was a great family activity to see what we were all hoping to get out of the coming year.

So what do we want to achieve? As a family we all want to continue learning French and we've decided we all want to learn to play the guitar. The boys got little guitars for Christmas and have already been doing music shows for us! We want to find some proper snow before the end of Winter and go sledging. We will get chickens soon and start our keeping chickens adventure all over again. We want to bake more and generally get the kids more involved in cooking. We started this weekend making homemade pizzas! Although we already eat quite a few of our meals together we're aiming for more, especially breakfast which the kids tend to have first.

We want to buy a campervan so that we can start our European travel adventures. We may be dreaming with this one but the least we can do is start saving up for one. Reuben has his sights on Spain which I'm sure we could achieve as it's driving distance from where we are. Andrew is keen to attempt some sort of family biking trip when the weather is a bit warmer. We're aiming for lots of fun this year and creating a better work/life balance which, if we work together, I know can be achieved.

Do you set family goals? What's on your list for 2015?
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