E. is 4 – oh my, when did she grow so much?

Writing about Baby Sis’s growing and development made me realised that I haven’t had time to write about my big, big girl. So here is and update on her too.

E. is 104 cms and 15,5 kgs.
Her favourite colours are pink and purple.
Her favourite piece of clothing is the purple blouse with the big butterfly on.

Easter mess in the favourite top

Her favourite foods are tomato soup, pasta, millet, chicken soup and chicken’s feet, meat in bread crumbs, salmon, and cheese.
Her favourite drinks are apple juice and “sour cherry liqueur” (cherry juice), oat milk with magic milk straw -strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavoured (in this order).

Her favourite book is “Minden napra egy kérdés” (Hungarian) and “The KnowHow Book of Fishing” in English (But this is changing every other week.)

Her favourite cartoon is Paw Patrol.

Her favourite youtube video is the singing fruits.

Her best friend is D., from the nursery.

Picnic with BF

Her favourite season is the summer.

She sleeps with her 5 toy dogs, 3 owls and 2 rabbits but skips the afternoon nap.

Her new hobby is taking photos. (Once she dropped the camera but luckily Daddy managed to have it fixed)

As for her English, she’s fluent but uses rather basic vocabulary and structures. She often searches for some words to express herself. Luckily, most of the time they come to her mind. Her Hungarian is much more varied and she can express herself more easily. (Since she started the kindergarten her Hungarian has been rocketing and her English has been falling behind or staying on the same level to say the best. Unfortunately, kindergarten – Mini Klub – English is very basic and doesn’t help her improve at all. We said good-bye to the English speaking nursery teacher, Ms. R. who really did everything to make E. talk in English but the new one. Ms K. doesn’t make the least effort, not to mention the fact that I haven’t even heard her talk English at all since May. The fact that she’s always on holiday is also worrying. UPDATE: Ms K. left the nursery in August and the new English speaking nursery teacher is Ms. I.)

She doesn’t play in English as her choice, but has no problem whatsoever to communicate with a native speaker. Since the beginning of the year we’ve  had native nannies (the American, L. and now the Canadian, V.) They have been coming twice a week for 90 minutes per session. Most of the time they play with building blocks, balls and the caterpillar tunnel, modelling clay, kitchen and cooking or they read books.

She changes between the two language without any problem, form one minute to the other.

We don’t use flashcards any more (though we should) only every now and then E. finds them and looks through a few topics. As I’m introducing flashcards for Baby Sis we’ll probably have a little revision with E. too.

Little Ms. Teacher showing flashcards to Baby Sis

She can read and write. She’s been reading since she was a bit over 3. At that time just a few words, later more difficult words and simple sentences. But now she reads fluently. Her reading in Hungarian is outstanding (like grade 3 or 4) but she can read basic stories in English as well.

reading Dr. Dog

She mostly write in Hungarian (as the spelling follows pronunciation) and occasionally in English of course with tons of spelling mistakes, which I don’t correct at all. I don’t even understand how she learnt to read in both languages… all by herself.

In this video she’s reading a part from I’m not reading  {HAHA} by Jonathan Allen (one of her favourite books and author I guess)

Every now and them E. refuses to talk in English (the reason I guess is that she can’t express herself so smoothly as in Hungarian, and the other reason is that everything happens to her in Hungarian.)

Tricks I use to redirect her to using the English language:

  • books in English (she’s a bookworm, thank Goodness)
  • songs (this doesn’t work well any more, she refuses to sing or sings VERY rarely – don’t know why, though)
  • fun activities like cooking together (I tell her the recipe’s in English so we need to change)
  • helpers (our new nanny, and my friend who speaks English only to the kids)
  • videos (she loves watching cartoons, music videos so she can watch her favourite ones in English.)
  • she can get an extra smiley on her behaviour chart if we spend a whole morning and/or afternoon in English

For a few weeks I tried to speak only English when we were at home as I was really desperate about our irregular and little English usage. We don’t have a fixed timetable as we used to have and sadly it’s also true for Baby Sis. For this reason I thought I could increase our English time in this way but it didn’t work. All of us mixed languages, there was not consistent usage (even I forgot sometimes that I needed to speak English at all times). I found that it could cause problems, for Baby Sis. So I returned to the English activities and fun tasks, English books for E., and a lot of singing and nursery rhymes for Baby Sis.

And that’s all my stock-in-trade. If you have an idea what else to do to motivate a child for the second language usage, please, share it with me in the comment section.

So here is my smart 4-year old daughter with all her beauty and shyness. I love you, Sweetie Pie!

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Starting the nursery – Mini Klub

E. started nursery in September (at the age of 27 months), but I haven’t had the time to finish a review on this issue. Here it comes:

Hello, this is my first day in nursery

We decided on a private nursery as opposed to a state one because of our bilingual journey. This option puts a greater financial burden on our family in the long run but hopefully it’ll be worth it.

Mini Klub is a bilingual nursery. There are two nursery teachers who speak Hungarian to the kids and one who speaks English only all day long. Although the English speaking nursery teacher is a native Hungarian, we are lucky enough, as her English is on a high level and her pronunciation is native-like. She is also a dedicated teacher and prepares a lot to entertain and “teach” the kids English.

We first met her (Ms. B.) in August before the official start when every week in the afternoon we visited the nursery’s playground. E. could meet all the children and nursery teachers.

Ms. B. played with E. in the sand pit and I also had a chance to chat with her a little about the routines and English usage in the nursery. I made it clear to her that the reason why we come to this nursery is because of E.’s bilingualism.

After almost three months now, Ms. B. hasn’t been talking to E. in Hungarian at all, although in some emergency situations Ms. B. needs to talk in Hungarian to other kids. Another relevant point is E. likes her a lot. (So much that in October we had several evenings when I had to play Ms. B.’s role during bath time at home.)

On the first official nursery day they hit it off. (sorry about the quality of the photos, most of them were taken secretly)

Exploring the nursery garden with Ms B.

The first few days and weeks went without any problem. I guess I was more worried and nervous about the transition than she was. Evidently, she enjoys playing there, loves the teachers and some of the kids, too.

On the first day with Ms. L. – 

Of course, we couldn’t avoid the initial illnesses, which gave me more possibility to increase the English time (at home).

Look, Daddy this is my box. My sign’s on it.

There are quite a lot of educational activities every single day (crafts, learning shapes, colours, rhymes and songs, circle games, story time etc.) on the basis of the Montessori Method that keep them busy and occupied.

Weekly routine:

Every day:

  • doing exercise
  • developing movements
Monday:
  • shapes, colours
  • feeling by touching
  • concentration
  • improving perceptibility
  • numbers 1-10
Tuesday:
  • communication
  • rhymes and story telling
  • learning verses and poems
Wednesday
  • circle games
  • songs
  • auditory development
  • developing rhythm and a sense of music

Thursday

  • fine motor skills
  • arts and crafts
  • modelling clay, painting, gluing, threading etc.

 Friday

  • love of nature
  • exploring our environment
  • plants and animals
Until the end of October every Tuesday the kids went pony-riding in the other premises of the nursery (Duna Ovi). From the middle of November (next week) they are starting ice-skating. E. just can’t wait. I hope she’ll like it. I’m not sure if she has understood what ice-skating means exactly.
The nursery also has a daily routine:
7.30-8.45 arrivals, free play time
8.45-9.00 doing exercise
9.00-9.05 changing nappies or toilet time
9.05-9.30 breakfast, teeth brushing
9.30-10.15 educational sessions (20 mins in English, 20 mins in Hungarian)
10.15-10.30 snack time (fruit, vegetables)
10.30-11.30 playtime in the playground (depending on weather conditions)
11.30-11.40 toilet time
11.40-12.15 lunch time
12.15-14.30 quiet time, sleepy time
14.30-15.15 waking up period, snack time
15.15-15.45 educational session (15 mins in English, 15 mins in Hungarian)
15.45 – free play time, departure

Food: healthy and varied (Daddy asked me one day looking at E.’s weekly menu  if he himself could sign up for lunch at the nursery 😉 – we receive the menu every week. 
Educational sessions:
  • crafts
Look, that’s my horse
  • preparing for special occasions like grape harvest festival, Halloween, Santa Claus day (Dec 6) or Christmas
  • I have a video about the educational session in English (and in Hungarian), but E. was ill and didn’t take part. What’s more, I should ask the nursery for permission to put the video up on my blog. So it might come later on.
—–o—–o—–o——o——o——-o—— Permission received—-o—–o



Play time – if it doesn’t rain cats and dogs they go out to the playground for at least an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon.

All in all, I am more than satisfied with this nursery and the English language input E. has been experiencing there. She plays a lot with Ms. B. and sometimes when I go to pick her up she tells me that we are in English. Every now and then, Ms. B. comes to the same direction as we do on the way home and we chat in English. E. has already made friends with another English speaking kindergarten teacher (Mrs. M.). She asked her the time in English (as I went to pick her up a little later that day).

I hope everything will go on like this in the future. My expectations were high but this nursery managed to meet them. If you have any questions about daily life in Mini Klub, just feel free to contact me.

Happy Halloween!

Our preparation for Halloween started more than a month ago with the skeleton craze (see a post about it). E. has really been excited about this holiday. She didn’t get the spooky part. She thought ghosts, skeletons and witches are funny and fell in love with the jack-o-lantern.

We, parents, did a lot of preparation for the big day, which was the 30th instead of the 31st October.

It all began in the nursery. A little costume party was organised in the afternoon and parents were invited. The kids had a short performance of singing and dancing in Hungarian and mostly in English. Songs like these:

Knock, knock trick or treat who are you?

Can you make a happy face?

E. knows them well enough as we’ve been watching nothing else but Halloween songs since she saw the Dem bones song:

E. knew exactly what she wanted to dress up as from the very beginning. What else than a skeleton. (I got her skeleton costume -pyjamas- from H&M).

As a part of the party the kids could have a look at how a pumpkin is carved into a jack-o-lantern.

Little helpers
Partying hard

The fun continued at home with our welcoming jack-o-door …

… and the MEC (Mums’ English Club) Halloween party.

 

Guests are arriving in costumes

 

We added face paint to maximise the scariness
MEC group

 

Mummies, oat-pumpkin biscuits and other snacks

Batman is playing with the balloon, Pumpkin and Spider are looking for some toys, Fairy wants her Mommy in the backround and Skeleton is just gazing into air. 
What a company!

The parties, the excitement, the food, the costumes, the decorations and the atmosphere were all great and memorable for both parents and their little ones. See you next year!

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!

Bilingual créche and nursery

We visited Mini Klub Bilingual Crèche and Nursery in Budapest, 4th district. We have it in mind that it might do good to E. if she is among other kids. As we wouldn’t like to decrease the amount of time spent on English, I checked what possibilities we have concerning a bilingual nursery. (I also checked the English-only nurseries but both they are far from us and their price range is high above what we can afford.)

Playground area

So I would like to share my experiences in connection with our visit.

D. took a day off and all three of us could go and visit the institution in the afternoon. The building itself is a detached house with its garden full of playground games (swings, seesaws, climbing castle, slide etc.). The gate is locked in order not to let in strangers and not to let out the kids. Kati néni opened the gate for us. She was very welcoming and kind. Inside we met one of the crèche nurses (her name I’ve forgotten). In the hall area you can take off your shoes. It’s all colourful and nicely decorated. Even if it is the entrance full of shoes and coats, it’s neat and well organised.

The crèche area (nursery for babies under 3) is separated from the nursery. There is a kitchen area where they prepare elevenses and afternoon snacks for the kids, or heat up the food they order for lunch. There are 2 playing rooms for the little ones (i.e. there are two groups), maximum 8 babies in each. The youngest child now is one year old (just like E.) as the nurse told us. The playroom is full of colourful toys (everything had been put back on the shelves and into cupboards as it was after 15:30 and all the babies had been take home already). E. started to cruise along the furniture and pack down the toys. She had a wide smile on her face. She felt comfortable immediately. And we, parents as well. We asked our questions and got very impressive and informative answers. Here are some of them which I found important to know:

  • every group has 2 nurses: one Hungarian-speaking, one English-speaking (still the latter is Hungarian nationality)
  • the English-speaking nurse communicates in English with the kids all day (food time, preparation for sleeping, potty training, activities etc.)
  • every day different skills are in focus (visual, musical, movement etc.) in both languages
  • English activities are in the afternoon (short ones in the crèche and longer sessions in the nursery) with a teacher who is specialised in kid’s English
  • there’s a native nurse in the nursery – the natives are there for 6-week periods – they are kind of trainee nurses (at the moment they have one from Australia) and spend time both with the little ones and the older kids too
  • they close only for 2 weeks in the summer

Of course, we were talking about food, and food time, sleeping time, arrival and departure, play time, potty training etc, but concerning the language development I found the information above  the most essential. You can find more information about other details on their homepage, or you can visit the after contacting the director via email.

We look around in the other playroom, checked what beds they use, we also saw the little toilets (which were very clean and the kids’ stuff in nice order). Then we had a look at the playground, and much to my surprise, the native nurse, who was sitting by the side of the sandpit where a little boy was playing, didn’t say a word to him. On the other hand, 2 little girls (4-5 years old) were playing in English, though there were no English speaking adults around them.

Our overall impression was great. They reacted at our enquiries very quickly, the staff are young, energetic and kind, with some elderly members – as the warm-hearted Granny substitutes. The atmosphere is cosy and relaxed, there is order and organised system. The English language is also in focus all day (though I can’t say it for 100% sure, only after E. has started going there). There are lot of other activities one can choose from (see also their homepage). Last but not least, their monthly fee is reasonable (basic price: 55 000 HUF/ month and 700 HUF/day for food plus extra activities – optional).

What we have decided to do is to wait one more year and from 2014 September E. will attend the crèche, first, one or two days a week, then slowly more. Then I’ll come back to this topic and share our experiences.