10 Reasons Why Your Mom’s Accent Rocks

10 Reasons Why Your Mom’s Accent Rocks

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Bilingual benefits: Raising a child with two languages

Bilingual benefits: Raising a child with two languages

Raised with parents only speaking Arabic at home, one mother learns the benefits of raising her own bilingual daughter and shares tips for raising a child proficient in two languages.

*Originally posted on the Christian Science Monitor

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We had a simple family rule when my siblings and I were growing up: speak Arabic at home. For the most part we did, especially when speaking with our parents, who were born in Egypt and Arabic was their native language.

But often times, it would be easier to speak in English with my brothers and sister, so we would slip a couple of English sentences here and there. My parents reminded us to switch back to Arabic whenever they overheard our conversations.

I never realized until I grew older how important that house rule was until now. The reason my siblings and I are bilingual is because of that “speak Arabic at home” rule. More and more families are realizing how important it is to preserve their native language. In the US, studies have shown that bilingualism has tremendous cognitive and social benefits compared to speaking only one language.

Some benefits include: better concentration, cultural awareness, increase in creativity, problem solving, multitasking skills, and advantages in finding jobs later in life.

Parents can begin exposing their children to more than one language at any age. However, it is highly recommended that parents begin introducing their children to the minority language as soon as they’re born.

Research shows that when children learn a second language before the “critical period” of age of five, they are less likely to have an accent and to speak as fluently as native or near-native speakers of that language.

There are different methods to teach one’s child to become bilingual depending on the family’s situation. A friend of mine is bilingual in Tagalog and English, while her husband speaks only English. They use the One Person, One Language  (OPOL) method for teaching their daughter two languages: she speaks to her daughter in Tagalog while her husband speaks to the daughter in English. Now at age 3, she is proficient in both languages.

Since my husband and I are both bilingual speakers of English and Arabic, we speak to our 1-year-old daughter in Arabic 95 percent of the time. This is often referred to as the Minority Language at Home (MLAH) approach. Since Arabic is a minority language and English is the primary language spoken in the US, we feel that exposing her to copious amounts of Arabic at a young age is crucial in order for her to be entirely bilingual.

She is then exposed to English when we are out on play dates, shopping, or at the park. Further, she will be exposed to more English when she attends day care and school.

If you are wondering how you can raise a bilingual child, here are some practical tips for getting started, especially for parents or caregivers who speak more than one language.

Make it fun and interesting. 

Singing, reading, playing, and talking in the minority language whenever possible with your baby is essential. Research shows that language skills improve when parents have one-on-one conversations with their babies.

Since Arabic language materials, such as books and toys, can be difficult to find in the US. I often translate English words to Arabic and point to the words in the book. I have Arabic letter blocks and printed Arabic alphabets in my daughter’s room that I found online after some searching.

When kids are older, consider using technology such as smart phone and tablet apps, and online resources such as blogs. Limited intake of cartoons in the minority language can help to capture the attention of your child, but remember that only serving up cartoons without other language-oriented interactions will not teach a toddler a second language.

Make them value the language. 

One should not be ashamed of speaking to your child in a different language when out in public. Don’t whisper the minority language when you’re out with your child; rather speak in a regular tone so your child understands its value.

It’s all right if at some point your child asks you to stop speaking to them in the minority language in front of friends, especially once they reach the teenage years. At that point, adjust your guidelines for when and where you speak a second language together. Insisting on speaking in only the second language can result in your child devaluing and abandoning the language if pressed too hard.

Find speakers of the language around you.

Try to find people around in the community who speak the same language. One can find groups or organizations that gather to teach or practice the language. Find a babysitter or other parents with children who speak the same language. As your child gets older, immersion schools in your area can offer an additional challenge through a curriculum focused on day-to-day learning in a second language.

Travel to places where the minority language is spoken. 

One thing that my parents did that made us love and appreciate Arabic was taking us to Egypt over the summers to spend time with our extended family. This helped us practice our language and become exposed to the Arabic language and culture. Although it’s not practical for everyone to travel overseas often with kids, one can find a plethora of communities across the US where minority groups live and work. These places are great for children to visit because of the authentic food, language, and exposure to the culture tied to their second language.

Make sure your child’s teachers are supportive.

I’ve heard unfortunate stories from friends in which their children’s teachers have told their bilingual children to “speak English only.” Often times, teachers are not familiar with working with bilingual students. Explain up front to teachers how important the minority language is for your family, both inside and outside the home. I remember in second grade my teacher asked me to write down all of the students’ names in Arabic clearly on a sheet of paper. I had my mom help me translate their names and handed them to the teacher the next day. Each student then took their name in Arabic and wrote it on their own on construction paper, decorated it, and we made a quilt with all of the names on the wall. Such a simple classroom project is excellent to make bilingual students feel more comfortable with their minority language.

Be patient and have fun.

Teaching a child to be bilingual requires extra work, patience, and support, but it is worth it in the end. Here are some of my favorite blogs and books to help with teaching your bilingual children: Multilingual ParentingOn Raising Bilingual ChildrenRaising A Bilingual Child: A Step-By-Step Guide for ParentsMulticultural Kid BlogsMulticultural Kids.

It’s Not Too Late to Rediscover Your Language and Culture

Bilingual-Kids

 

Arabic name recognition: cute ideas for kids

Do you know how nurseries and children’s rooms are filled with a ton of monogrammed items or labels with the child’s name? Or customized digital prints or paintings with their name? Many of these names are “popular” English names and it’s so easy to find someone to make them (etsy) or print them. 

I love that nowadays there are tons of artists who make Arabic related items for children. Being a bilingual mother, I want my daughter to eventually learn to recognize her name in English and Arabic. Here are my favorite items and shops that have made items for my daughter. I highly recommend them all. Getting your child to reconsider her name in both languages is so important. That way she will learn to love both languages! 

Any other shop recommendations? 
  

These iron on patches are very affordable and easy to use! These are by ACraftyArab. You can choose the Arabic font and design. Check her out Here  

    
This cute mini canvas is by Creation Z Art. He has beautiful calligraphy! Check his shop out  Here

This beautiful wall decal is by Simply Impressions. She made this super fast and was delivered within 2-3 days. She made sure the name was correct and went over what color and design I wanted. She has the cutest designs and decor for children! Check out her shop Here    

  
   

 
 

An overview of her book shelf/toy storage:

 

Toddler Travels: healthy-ish snacks on long flights

Let’s face it. Toddlers can be picky eaters. Now when you’re on a plane thousands of miles away from home, your toddler might not like the gourmet food served on the airplane. Packing snacks for flights is essential-especially long flights. My tips are for toddler-friendly snacks on the plane: 

  • They should be small and don’t take up much space 
  • Don’t make a lot of noise 
  • Keeps them happy 
  • Possibly keeps them entertained 
  • Yummy 
  • Be aware of how many ounces it is (if it’s liquid) for when you go through security 
  • Somewhat heathy-ish so the toddler isn’t high on too much sugar and running up and down the tiny aisles at 2 am while getting death stares from jet lagged parent-less humans. 

Here are some of my toddler’s favorites when we travel on the plane. 

 

Annie’s makes some great fruit snack (no gelatin). Great for treats   


We love Justin’s snack packs. They’re basically pretzel sticks and some kind of nut butter (they have almond and hazelnut). This will keep the toddler entertained for some time too since they love dipping. Make sure wipes are on hand. 

   

  

Other favorites include raisins, crackers (put them on the top of your carry on so they don’t get squished which will lead to a toddler tantrum), fig bars (we love this kind from Costco), dried fruit (again we love these kinds from Costco because of the handy pouches they come in). I always hide something unhealthy and loved by toddlers (i.e. Chocolate, lollipop) just in case you really need to reward your toddler (or bribing her to sit down and fasten her seatbelt during takeoff and landing). 
What are you favorite snacks for toddlers while traveling? 
   

Toddler Travels: Thanks lady on airplane for your kindness 

Traveling on an airplane is stressful. Add two airplanes, three airports, jet lag, three countries, and two kids under 3. Major stress. Add being an Arab. You get stares, extra security checks, and people shifting uncomfortably in their seats hoping you (Muslim/Arab) won’t sit next to them.

We were out of the country for two weeks and on the 8 hour flight back home was chaotic and stressful. 

But I want to share a gesture one of the passengers sitting next to us did.  My toddler fell asleep on her seat and we were tried to shift her so she can sleep comfortably. The lady sitting next to her insisted that my toddler rest her dangling  feet on the lady’s lap so that she’s more comfortable. And she did for a good couple of hours. It was such a sweet gesture that made the long trip a tad bit less stressful so did didn’t have to worry about her waking up or shifting uncomfortably. 

So thank you stranger lady for letting our toddler rest her little feet on your lap so she can sleep comfortably on an international flight. 
  
Photo of the nice lady. 

Toddler travels: quiet & fun activities for the airplane. 

My toddler has traveled to four different countries and has been on numerous domestic flights as well. With the holidays approaching, many families will be traveling with toddlers and we know how fun that is! 

Here are some of my favorite toys/activities to pack for toddlers on plane rides. I got for items that are pretty inexpensive in case they get lost, quiet, practical, light and that entertain for a while. 

Here at some overview photos: 

    
   

Lacing activities. Great for fine motor skills and it’s so fun watching toddlers concentrate so hard. I got this from target and it comes with several different animals.  
 
I love these washable stamps by Melissa & dough. Have your toddler stamp away on napkins, paper, or even your face. Hey it’s washable! 

  

I like these mini clothes pins because they can do so much. They can practice fine motor skills and try to pin them on paper or their own clothes. Make an impromptu clothespin puppet, too! 

 
 
I found these adorable airplanes from target. They’re soft and you can explain to your toddler how they’re inside an airplane just like that!

  

Scented gel pens so they can sniff away! Or crayons or washable markers of course. I also like washi tape because they’re inexpensive and toddlers love to stick things on paper (and on people). 

 
 A book is a must. And these adorable little pegs that toddlers can match the upper and bottom parts,  practice their colors, and pretend play. I got it from an etsy shop called offspringkidsboutique. 

  

Love this matching colors game from an etsy shop also. Very affordable and fun! 

 
 
My toddler loves this matching activity from pen&thimble (yes from etsy too). They’re soft and come in a cute little pouch. 

 
Stickers! Stickers will entertain a child for some time. The ballet stickers are Melissa & dough and the princess-hijab stickers are by MuslimMe by Emma apple!   

What are some of your other favorite activities for toddlers on airplane rides?

Super breakfast for nursing moms

I love seeing what other breastfeeding mothers have for breakfast. I’m always on the search for products that increase milk production, keep you full, nutritious, and taste good. This has been my go to breakfast lately. Oatmeal increases milk production and this oatmeal has flax and chia so they are healthy fats! I like to top them off with fruit and Mrs. Patel’s munch crunch. 

Mrs. Patel’s is a company that a discovered that makes products for breastfeeding moms that increase milk supply. 

They make fenugreek bars, tea, and the munch crunch (which consists of seeds like fennel and flax.

 You can also get 20% off your first purchase by using the code firstorder

I love the bars they had chocolate and peanut butter. It’s very flavorful so some might not like the taste but I enjoy it! 

Tea tastes great with milk and honey. The much crunch can be added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or just eat a spoonful!
What are you favorite foods to eat while breastfeeding that helps milk production?  

    
    
  

 

Bata and batuta

I recently stumbled upon the cutest stuffed animal online from a shop called Bata and Batuta. We read more about them and found out they are handmade plush stuffed animals! Not only that, when you purchase stuffed animal, another one is donated to a child in need. How sweet is that? We got the elephant one. Check them out on Facebook