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Monday, 14 November 2011

The Little Kid Info Fair 2011 in Delft

The Little Kid Info Fair took place on November 12th, 2011 at the UNESCO- IHE in Delft.
It was dedicated to parents of children between 0-4 years old. The Fair provided information about topics like childcare and primary education in the Netherlands. I had the chance to go there and have a look at the Fair. Many different companies and organisations concerned with children were represented. Among them were: Delft MaMa, Global Photos, Poppedijn, and many others. At their stands you could ask questions, get information leaflets, and meet friends. Cupcakes and tea/ coffee/juice were sold as well.

Apart from gaining information and networking, it was also possible to attend workshops about Primary Education in the Netherlands, Raising Bilingual Children, and Daycare and Preschools. The reason I actually went to that Fair was the workshop about Bilingual Education, by Eowyn Crisfield, teacher and self-proclaimed “renegade bilingualism advocate”.

I found this workshop extremely interesting. Most of what I heard was consistent with my instinct and knowledge about languages (and I studied languages and communication, after all), but it was great to have this confirmed by a specialist. In her speech, Eowyn Crisfield discussed the many myths and misconceptions surrounding bilingualism. She started with the importance of knowing the theory of bilingualism, for both the parents (so they know how language actually works) and others (so that parents can explain why they decided to raise their children bilingually). She then went on to talk about setting both communication and literacy goals for the children. Eowyn Crisfield advises everybody to prepare Family Language Plans specifying in detail which languages will be dealt with when, and how.

Then, it was time for questions. Interestingly, of all the families present, each had a different family situation: some were raising their children with just two languages, some with more. Some families intended to stay in the Netherlands for longer, others might be going back to their country. Those questions were answered in an individual manner. I found this talk very interesting, and came home even more convinced that we’re doing the right thing- and doing it the right way, too.

After the talk I went home to be greeted by a hungry J. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay longer. But I met friends there, and had a great cupcake with some orange juice. It was very nice, and educational as well!
All participants of the Fair had the chance to win a free photo shoot with Nomad Photos after filling in an evaluation questionnaire. The first 50 people to sign up for Eowyn Crisfield’s blog could win a free Family Language Plan. Maybe I’ll be lucky?

Here are some more links to the companies and organisations represented at the Fair with short descriptions:

Delft MaMa: is a non-profit organisation launched by Lucy Cunningham helping international mothers and mothers-to- be get settled in the Netherlands. They provide support and information for such moms, but also playgroups and regular meetings are organised. Those playgroups are a great way to make new friends, and meet some extremely interesting people as well.

Global Parents: started by Lynn Morrisson and Emilie Yane Lopes, it’s a great source of information about all things Dutch. Pregnancy and birth, childcare, a whole community of parents, and personal stories and experiences. A daycare finder for all the Netherlands and a review section for products and places are included as well. Also check out Nomad Photos , their sister site. If you’re looking for maternity photos, a family photo shoot, or just a gift certificate to give to a friend, they’re all possible.

Piekaaboe is a cute little shop in the old part of Delft. They sell baby and maternity clothing, toys and nursing accessories. Their maternity clothes are beautiful, and I’m actually still wearing some of them. The only thing that I would criticise about this place is that it’s rather little, and it’s hard to go there with a stroller.

Poppedijn is a toy shop specialising in toys made of natural materials and fabrics. Although I have never been there, it seems to me that they have a big variety of toys, books and accessories for children of all ages.

Information about speaker Eowyn Crisfield: she is a English teacher, language consultant and speaker for Passionate Parenting where she gives workshops about Raising Bilingual Children. She also provides services for schools and companies, advocating for bilingual education. She blogs at: http://onraisingbilingualchildren.wordpress.com/.

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