It has long been acknowledged that “work is not work” when one is having fun – and the same is true for children at school, who can learn seamlessly through play. This is a fact that many parents in New York City have recognized, forming playgroups for their children to practice their French language skills throughout the city – all one has to do is look at the many posts about the topic on New York in French.
One of the most recently created groups is the one at Greenpoint Church: “Hi Parents, I am starting a French playgroup in Greenpoint for parents and their children to meet, read French books, listen to French music and play! The playgroup will take place every Friday at the Greenpoint church 136 Milton Street in Brooklyn.” With this greeting on New York in French, Magda Lahliti raised incredible interest to continue her playgroup.
Magda was encouraged to start the playgroups after realizing that she was not alone in wanting her children to preserve their heritage. At only 3-months of age, her son James is one of her students at French for Little Ones. She starts early because “when all your friends and their children speak English it is hard to get your child to speak French because they feel different…With the French playgroup I am hoping to give parents the opportunity to be with other French speaking parents so that our children can feel safe to speak a different language.” When her son reaches kindergarten, Lahliti hopes to enroll her son in one of New York City’s dual language programs.
Brigitte Saint-Ouen, a French mother of twin girls is the wife of a Canadian who also speaks Chinese. Of her diverse family, Brigitte says, “so, in my house I speak French to my twins and they speak French with me and with one another, and speak English to their father, and we translate for him when it is necessary. (Having dinner with us is very interesting).” This diversity is a glimpse into the lives of many New York City inhabitants, who often share numerous languages and cultures under a single roof.
When her twins were 6 months old, Brigitte began having play dates with her children at home, eventually resulting in over 12 children being in her home for a playdate, and leading her children’s school to allow her a space for her and other children to have play dates three times a week: “this is the 4th year I have organized a monthly play date. Sometimes, we have 120 families. In the past, I have invited a guest violinist teacher from opera Bastille to play and educate the children, or a singer of opera, or guitarist teacher, chef who bakes a cake with the children”.
Brigitte’s success has resulted in her creation of the Bleu Blanc Rouge 5-week summer camp where students can be completely immersed in the French language through songs, cooking, science experiments, and numerous hands-on arts and crafts: “my twins are included in class so they call me Maman and the other students call me Brigitte, while the younger children who joined called me Maman Brigitte (I have to say they really touch my heart!)” Brigitte hopes to start a Saturday class in January.
Although their reasons for starting their respective programs may differ, both mothers recognize the importance of complementing their children’s bilingual education at home – and at a young age.
If you are interested in the aforementioned playgroups, feel free to contact the respective parents:
Search “playgroup” on New York in French http://www.newyorkinfrench.net/main/search/search?q=playgroup#.UnzU...
For the Greenpoint Church Playgroup
email@example.com or call 3472636404
For The French Speaking Playgroup
For the Manhattan French Playgroup http://www.newyorkinfrench.net/xn/detail/3350642:Topic:237143
Brigitte Saint-Ouen's Camp:
Here is a video of Brigitte's Playgroup