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.

Home-made tools for language practice – matching colours

E. LOVES colours and all the games in connection with colours. One of her first words was a colour (red in English, kék -blue- in Hungarian). So I though I should make some fun activities with the colours. Here is one of them:

I drew circles and coloured them on two white sheets. Just to be on the safe side, I laminated them to make them more durable. On one sheet there are the basic colours: red, blue, green black and white. On the other one: brown, pink, orange, yellow and purple.

From the kitchen I picked some bottle caps, lids of different colours, but I didn’t have black and orange so I took off an orange and a black magnet from the fridge.

I put all the caps, magnet and lids into a box and put it in the living room. E. went there and took it off immediately. Without me showing her what to do, she started to match the colours. She can concentrate on it for few minutes only, but she always says out loud the name of the colours. Most of the time she uses one language, either English or Hungarian. Only very rarely does she mix them.
Sometimes I pick the caps from the box and she shows me where to put them.

We never get to the end of the matching, though. Either she gets tired of it, or runs away with the two favourites: yellow and purple. 🙂

Weekly-daily schedule

Our daily schedule concerning English has developed slowly. E. is 11 months old and for a month now we’ve had a more or less fixed weekly agenda. Here it is:

60% is in Hungarian and 40% is in English – I wish we could keep this balance

We’ve just started Helen Doron English (in a later post I’ll write about our experience), but it definitely increases the time spent on English and we are not at home using the minor language at last. Tuesdays and Thursdays are clearly dedicated to English. Mondays and Wednesdays are the Hungarian days. Still, on these days we have 2 or 3 hours of English input. (What is not in the chart is the 20-30 minutes when D. takes the dog out for a walk in the evening. E. and I change into English and lay the table, put away the toys or watch some videos or books in English while they’re away.)

Fridays are changeable, but in general half of the day goes in Hungarian, the other half in English. Before our Hungarian playmate comes to visit us, we go out for a walk together or to the market and then we use Hungarian as English would be unnatural.

My only problem is the weekends. As the whole family is together, it’s really difficult to find time and natural situations when we can use English. At weekends 1 hour of English per day is “forced” into our programme (singing, video watching, reading out) but not real communicative interactions. I’ll try to find out something for the weekends. If you have any suggestions, just feel free to share it with me.

In the table above you can’t see food time (which is in the given language according to which day it is) and daily sleeping time, however the latter takes away 2-3 hours per day.

At the beginning of January we took up baby swimming on Saturday mornings. I found a course at Budapest Moms (you can find the group’s facebook page here), which was held in two languages. The tutor is Hungarian and in the water one of the moms do the interpreting. As the swimming pool echoes a lot it is hard to hear the Hungarian words, not to mention the English ones, however, we met a lot of non-Hungarian families (Russians, French, Dutch, Canadians etc). As for the English language, it doesn’t make a big difference whether we take part in this swimming course or another, but the trainer is really professional and the pool is clean, the water is warm. So all in all we, and most important of all, E. enjoy it. It’s a good family programme for the weekend. The course is finished in a week, now we are thinking of continuing it, but not sure. Good weather has arrived, we might want to spend time outside instead.

I’m a little worried about being able to keep this schedule. One thing is permanent in a baby’s life that nothing is permanent. As I’m planning to work part-time soon, probably in a month or two our agenda needs to be revised.