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Learning Finnish is Child's PlayParents and carers have a primary and invaluable role in children's language development. Finnish school on every second or third Saturday cannot replace the daily interaction in the home, but what we can offer are lessons with a bilingual peer group, a place in the wider multicultural society and a chance to develop a personal interest in Finland, its culture and traditions. Our role is to help families maintain Finnish language skills and cultural awareness and to encourage and motivate both parents and children in their ongoing language development.
Our aim is a child with a healthy self-image who is comfortable, aware and proud of their bilingual and bicultural heritage.
Babies and toddlers
The Cambridge Finnish Baby and Toddler Club, 'muskari' was first established in 2005. The purpose of muskari is to support the early language learning of local children with a Finnish parent or grandparent. Muskari is aimed at 0-3 year old children and their Finnish-speaking mothers, fathers or carers. The babies/toddlers and adults have an opportunity to sing and play both new and old Finnish nursery rhymes and songs. The children practice listening, and gradually speaking, Finnish through music and play in familiar company; learn about Finnish culture and begin to build a multi-cultural identity. The key objectives of the muskari are to develop early language development through music-making and play, introduce and upkeep Finnish music tradition, and provide an opportunity to meet with other Finnish speaking children and parents.
Muskari meets up on Friday mornings about 30 times a year in the Catholic Church Parish Hall in central Cambridge. For more information Cambridgen Muskari website.
Children aged 3 to 5 yearsTeacher Merja Bird This group learns through play, song and chatter. Subject matter relates to things within the child's own sphere of experience such as family, food, drink, clothing, travel, pets. Learning goals include knowing colours, numbers from 1-19, awareness of the Finnish phonetic alphabet, extending basic vocabulary and answering simple questions spontaneously.
Under 3's are welcome to join the group with their parents and carers. Any parent or carer of a child in this group is welcome to participate in the lesson.
Children over 5 years
Teacher Hanna Winberg-Watson In this group we practise reading and writing in Finnish, play games and do crafts. The lessons consists of chatting about the subject of the day, and general topics like the weather and how we are, practising the Finnish phonetic alphabet together, practising reading and writing. During the lessons we also read stories, do crafts and sing. The goals are to encourage children to express themselves confidently in Finnish, and to learn to pronounce the Finnish phonetic alphabet and to recognise the correct alphabet from the sound.
Children over 10 yearsTeacher Annu Tarnanen-Money In this group we practise reading and writing in Finnish. Lessons are more formal but we also learn through games, role play and arts and crafts. Subject matter expands from the concrete to the more abstract. We learn the days of the week and months, we compare and contrast the similarities and differences between traditions and annual festivals in our two cultures. The under and over 6's will sometimes play and do crafts together. Older children and teenagers with very basic Finnish can join the Adult Beginners group.
Incy wincy spiderWhen school starts we take the register and count how many we are. I tell everyone my news. I have learnt numbers to fifteen because that's how many we usually are. Mummy and Severn's Granny stay for school because we have fun and Mummy wants to learn Five Little Ducks (in Finnish). Sometimes when we sing, Annu accompanies us with her Kantele. That's Finnish too.
My favourite game is a memory game where you have to remember all the things that were on the table and know which one was taken away.
We talk lots about animals and food and travelling. I even know some of the days of the week but I get muddled with months.
Merja always has something fun for us to do with glue and paint: last autumn we made binoculars and when it's a special day we do cards.