Tomorrow we will continue our tri-lingual adventures and go for a five week vacation to Mexico. From day one, we've been raising both our children tri-lingually. It's not something we do to get our kids into Harvard, we're simply used to living in a global environment and constantly switching between languages.
The past few months have been interesting since Daniel, our 3-year old son, went from all Swedish day-care to a bilingual Swedish-English class. And since we haven't been to Mexico in a year, we're also very curious on how he will react when changing to an all Spanish environment.
Our kids are still young, 3 years and 7 months, but so far our tri-lingual "experiment" has been great. We've managed to continue speaking all three languages, sometimes four, with our kids without any additional effort. We've basically continued to live life like we used to and integrated our kids nicely into the organized chaos. I've previously written a few tri-lingual updates which you can find here, here, here, and here.
Daniel's switch to the bi-lingual Swedish-English school has gone very well. He first started Swedish only day-care at 18 months and by then he was shy and spoke few words. Friends his age were miles ahead verbally. The class was 1-3 years and after being the new kid on the block he bloomed into a social and talkative little person. The move over to the larger 3-5 year olds went much better than expected, especially considering Daniel switched a few months ahead of his 3rd birthday. Everything was perfect, except for one little problem. After being almost done with his potty training, he started to have lots of "accidents" in the new class.
A few days a week during the first month or two there was some kind of toilet related problem. Usually involving poop-filled underwear and pants. We were completely surprised but after talking to staff, friends, and searching the internet we realized that this was normal. It was his reaction to the new environment. The school was the same but he was in a new class, with new friends, new teachers, and with a new language at school. He showed no sign of not liking it but perhaps he became a little shy and uncertain.
Hearing others having similar experiences made us relaxed and we simply let Daniel work this out by himself, of course with our support. The staff has been great and very patient so it never became a real issue. But it's not easy constantly changing clothes on a toddler dressed in thick Goretex clothing to handle the Swedish winter. Accidents are now rare and potty training is more or less out of the way.
After three months in the new class we still see little difference in Daniel English skills. He has started to repeat some English words but that might also have been from some of his favorite DVD's. But we clearly see that he understands a lot more of what we say. Which means we struggle in keeping secrets from him….
Regardless how much you plan, a child's behavior is still kind of unpredictable. Especially during the early years. We've noticed that lately when Daniel suddenly stopped speaking Spanish to his mother. When Daniel was 7 months old we spent three months in Mexico and he obviously picked up lots of Spanish. When he did start speaking, it was mostly Spanish. This continued throughout his first six months in the all Swedish day-care but then started to change.
At this time he was speaking Spanish only to his mother. A few months ago, right around the time he started bi-lingual class, Daniel's Swedish skills exploded. He went from being quite far behind his friends, expected since he's learning three languages at once, to comparing well verbally with most others his age.
We still don't know why he stopped speaking Spanish to his mother but it seems to be normal. Kids his age often stay at a plateau for a while and then take off quickly in some direction. Sandra still speaks only Spanish to him and he understands virtually everything. We're hoping that he will feel more comfortable with the Spanish lanugage in Mexico and make wife happy with some more Spanish phrases.
Worst case scenario is lots of sun, stunning beaches, sweet umbrella drinks,
staring at gorgeous women in thongs pleasant family time, and no additional Spanish words. Oh well, life could be worse. I'm looking forward to many open Wifi networks and plenty of time to blog(?) during the next five weeks
Have a nice weekend!
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