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  • 05 Feb, 2023
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  • 3 Mins Read

Happy Waitangi Day!

Are you enjoying this extra day off, over the weekend (assuming you have got this day off). This day is to remember the why of the Treaty of Waitangi – Tiriti ō Waitangi.

In the education sector there are the 3 p’s of the treaty –  partnership, protection, and participation, and these set out goals and provide a framework for programmes that support Maori language in education.

As New Zealand is the only country in the world to have the Maori culture (Tikanga) and language (Te Reo) it is our responsibility to follow these principles to keep them alive. Understanding the principles, learning about the culture and practising new words and sentences all help with the promotion and celebration of Te Reo and Tikanga Maori.

It’s a beautiful culture and language and it is not only fun to learn about other cultures and languages but it is also great for our brains.

“Specific brain areas increase in size and function, including the motor speech area, which is usually in the left hemisphere and involved in language production. When children grow up bilingual, both languages are processed in the same area. Yet when adults learn a second language, a separate area develops close to the first, this may also preserve the brain as it ages.” (BBC Focus magazine)

Other benefits include:

Improved concentration

More powerful memory

Stronger communication skills

More creativity

Sharpens cognitive abilities

When is a good time to practise new language skills? All the time. But if life is busy (quite probably) then dedicate using new words, sentences, and phrases at dinner time. The time to put tech away, turn off the TV, sit around the dining table, enjoy kai and korero.

Even in your first language, conversation around the table is incredibly important iin terms of healthy eating and connection – and, as I’ve said in previous blogs, that the simple act of sharing a meal can improve your children’s vocabulary.

Family therapist Anne Fishel says researchers have found that for young kids, conversations at the dinner table boost vocabulary even more than being read to. Researchers counted the number of “rare words” – those not found on a list of 3000 most common words – that the family used during dinnertime chats.

It may seem odd, especially if you feel like the only things you say during dinnertime are, “Sit down!” and “Here comes the plane”, but young children learned a gob-smacking 1000 rare words at the dinner table, compared with only 143 from parents reading aloud from a book.

And why is vocabulary so important? If a child at 5 only hears commands the majority of time (get dressed, eat breakfast, get in the car/bath/shower/bed etc etc) they will not have the vocab to hold a conversation by the time they are 14.

If the TV or any device is left on while eating a meal, 700 words a minute are lost. 700. Per minute. Words not heard, processed and responded to. It’s quite frightening really.

Not only that, children who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily. Plus, they find the process of learning to write much easier too. So get talking! If you want some tips on what to say go to the children and education sector in this website.

If you want some more help with the techniques and strategies for clear and confident speech click on the link to the Say It Clearly manual, on Amazon.

To make it easier, there is also an online course where the children can watch a 3-5 minute video every day that shows you exactly how to learn to speak clearly, which is super quick and less time consuming for you. Clear Speech for Children.

You still need to read The Gruffalo for the millionth time, though. Sorry.

Have a great week, Miriam.