Thursday, 24 April 2008

Parents' Meeting at Lillgården

I almost forgot the parents' meeting at daycare last night and it came to me like a bolt of lightening during the day. I had planned to go to my first Shenet mingle but figured I had better attend the meeting with the other Lillgården parents. Shenet will have to wait another few weeks. The Moet sounded very inviting..... oh well, a cup of herbal tea it was instead.

As usual I came away from the parents' meeting feeling sorry for my poor children, now it is Kieran I am concerned for.

When we came back from Canada last year it was evident how the six months away had impacted on Makaila. She was more shy, more withdrawn, and more timid than ever before. And it took here a good 4 months to start speaking Swedish again. It was a difficult time for her, a frustrating time. Thankfully things gradually changed and these days she switches comfortably back and forth between the two languages.

Now it is Kieran's turn. He has been "learning" Swedish since last August when he first started at Lillgården. In reality that means he was thrown off the deep end and into a totally Swedish speaking environment, although they speak English if they need to be sure he understands. While his learning was initially passive, ever so gradually he started to regurgitate what he was soaking up. He repeats a lot of what is said to him and will often tell me what things are called in Swedish. I was pleased to hear last night that he is now starting the gradual transition from one word answers to full sentences in Swedish.

But the heart-breaking part is that while he understands most of what is said to him he can't really communicate with the other kids. Consequently, he ends up on the outer of any group, unable to totally join in their games. Initially it didn't bother him too much, it was all so new and observing the others was part of his transition. Six months down the track I think he is looking for more interaction, but not able to get it.

I'm so grateful he and Makaila have each other - they almost always play together when all the kids are outside, with a couple of others joining in. I'm sure they get a lot of comfort from being together.

It is a process that they have to go through, there is no way to avoid it if we are going to stay in Sweden, and we have no plans to go anywhere. And there is absolutely nothing we can do except make sure they get plenty of Swedish exposure and wait it out. It will get easier, but it takes time.

But some days it feels like a high price to pay and I can only wonder how it will affect them in the long run, for I am quite sure it will affect them in one way or another. Will they be more shy for the experience, or more gutsy as they get older, demanding space in whatever group they find themselves in? I hope they grow up happy to have two languages under their belt, and an easier time then going on to learn other languages.

I hope they think it was worth the price.

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