Tag Archives: education

Gaelic for Toddlers: pàrant is pàisde

7 Feb

More and more, in the last few weeks, I have wished that there were a pàrant is pàisde AKA Gaelic parent and toddlers for my daughter to attend.  My son’s Gaelic nursery kindly gave me details of one in the west end of Glasgow but we can’t make it because we wouldn’t be able to drop off & pick up my son from nursery.  They also gave me details of a local playgroup but, though it may be a little handier, it’s still not practical.

I’m seriously tempted to set up something informal – just tea & biscuits at my house (for the adults, I’m sure I could drum up something more appropriate for a few wee kids) with some other mums I capture meet at my son’s nursery and at the Saturday Gaelic club, and just see how it pans out.  Yes, this means that I’d need to tidy up, a skill I still need to hone, but it would be much more flexible and relaxed than turning up as the new girl to yet another club.  I’ve joined a couple of clubs with my daughter recently and been feeling so out of my depth that I really don’t need to add to it, so maybe that would be the solution.

The difficult question to answer is: what do I actually want out of a pàrant is pàisde?  Whilst an abundance of toys and activities for my daughter would be lovely, I don’t think that’s a crucial part of what I’m looking for (though a few would be good).  In essence, I’m looking for a simple place to go with my daughter where she can play with other children who may one day be in her class and where we can practise some simple songs and phrases to use about the house. I want a place to chat with people who perhaps already have children in the school – not just about school issues, but to know that I could would be great.   I want somewhere to try out this new, alien vocabulary with people who are in the same boat. I want to make some friends who understand this journey we are on.

A quick look on Netmums flagged up a Pàrant ‘s Pàisde in Kilmarnock.  It sounds right up my street, except that sadly, it is nowhere near my street so I can’t pop along.  It describes itself like this:

“The toddlers group is a relaxed, informal group where parents can chat over a cup of tea/coffee and find out more about benefits of a bilingual education and the children can play, take part in craft activities and learn some Gaelic songs and nursery rhymes.  Why not come along and find out more about this fantastic opportunity?”

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it!?

But at the end of the day, none of this matters if I’m the only one who feels a need for something like this.  It would be a very lonely (though tasty) biscuit if I’m the only one sitting eating.  I suppose I should put my feelers out and try to guage interest.  Or maybe just stick with the original plan to capture people at the gates.  Wait, did I just say that out loud…….?

If you (or anyone you know) would be interested in a pàrant is pàisde (or anything like it) then I’d love to hear from you – I’ve got my fingers crossed.


First Day Nerves

18 Jan

Sgoil Araich Lyoncross

This week was my son’s first week at his Gaelic nursery and, so far, he loves it.  In fact, I had to drag my screaming child from the room this afternoon because he wanted me to go away for longer and let him stay.  All the way to nursery yesterday he was practising how to tell them his name and then couldn’t resist telling every member of staff who passed him on the way into the room.  “Is mise…”  (Is misha….) the whole way there.  So sweet.  He asked them to remind him how to say good morning – though it was the afternoon – and he was desperate to find out how to say, “please.”  If only he were always so eager at home…

Today was the Chinese New Year themed day so they got Chinese food at snack (apparently the noodles were nippy but the rice was good) and I was able to peek in and see him painting his own Chinese fan.  He was very proud that he can now tell me two colours – dubh (doo) for black, and buidhe (booyuh) for yellow.  He tells me that he is going to be my teacher now.

As for me, so far I’ve chickened out of using the little Gaelic I know.  So, whilst my son gets an A+, I get a definite, “must try harder,” on my report card.

On the plus side, I heard back from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic medium college on the Isle of Skye, and I have got my place on An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – the entry level distance learning course.  Soon enough I’ll get all the information through and I can pick a suitable time to do my telephone tutorial.  I’m very excited!  Maybe then I’ll summon up the courage to speak in his nursery.

Watch this space!

Off to the local sgoil-àraich – Gaelic Nursery School

18 Jan

(Originally posted on Thursday 12th Jan 2012)

Well, the day is drawing near for us to head off to the local Gaelic nursery.  I went in yesterday morning to make sure all the forms were completed, to run through my son’s education plan, and to get our first “settling in” date.  So, assuming we’re all healthy, next Tuesday is our first day.  We go in for half an hour and see how it goes from there.

They were very keen for me to change from 3 afternoons to 5, and reduce his regular morning sessions to 3 instead.  I’m reluctant to do this because my son is well settled in his nursery.  He has friends, he knows the routines and he’s got the support he needs in place there.  After spending 18 months with them, I feel it would be a shame to miss out on the last few months.  Plus, at the moment there’s no guarantee that he’ll get into the Glasgow Gaelic School so I’m loathe to remove him from his current nursery.  We should hopefully know around Easter time so I’ll revisit the issue then.

In the meantime, we’re going back through our Gaelic Nursery Language Links books – written for parents of children in Gaelic nurseries but who have no Gaelic themselves(http://www.gaelicforfun.edin.org/) – and revise some of the phrases he might be hearing.  I’m also going to add the Gaelic numbers (and pronunciation)to his number chart in our playroom.  Together we can practise counting to ten at least.  He’s told me he’s going to teach me…

1 aon

2 dhà

3 trì

4 ceithir

5 còig

6 sia

7 seachd

8 ochd

9 naoi

10 deich

Here goes!

Mar sin leibh!

Gaelic 2012

17 Jan

I don’t know where the time goes.  It seems like only yesterday my oldest child was just a babe in arms, and yet this month I have to register him for school.  How did that happen!?  If you’d asked me 4 years ago how difficult picking a school would be, I would have told you that it wasn’t difficult at all.  Surely they just go to their local school?  But now I’m finding the answer is somewhat different.

As I started to look at all the local schools I came across the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu – the Glasgow Gaelic School and was intrigued.  If you’ve never come across it before it’s a 3-18 establishment where the children are immersed in Gaelic.  Until mid way through primary 3 they are taught exclusively in Gaelic, and even after that it is the first language of the classroom.  The secondary school is part of the same building and one progresses naturally from the other.  I’d heard about the Gaelic school before in passing but had never really looked into it.  However, the more I read the more I liked.

I liked:

  • that my children would become fluent in another language; something I feel will stand them in good stead for future language learning,
  • that research into bilingualism has shown benefits not just linguistically but socially as children learn to appreciate multiple cultures, and cognitively as they appear to display greater flexibility of thought.
  • that the Gaelic school was considered a good school with good results.  Obviously as they only learn English reading & writing from P3 at that stage they are behind English medium peers, but this gap has generally disappeared by P5, with many GME pupils exceeding their EME peers.
  • that it maintains a part of Scottish culture.  Having grown up being told that my ancestors are from the Isle of Skye I’ve always been interested in that area.

Now obviously I hope that they will have good language skills, appreciate lots of cultures and be able to think flexibly regardless of the school they ultimately go to, but it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

So it’s a done deal, isn’t it?  Clearly it’s a great option and why wouldn’t we send our children there?  Why wouldn’t everyone?

Only it’s not as simple as that.  If we go with the Glasgow Gaelic School we’re signing up to something very different from the education that we experienced.  My husband and I have no Gaelic, and neither does anyone else in our family.  Although over 60% of the families in the Glasgow Gaelic School don’t have Gaelic at home and tell us it’s not absolutely essential, if we are to send our children to this school then it’s only fair to commit to learning what we can of the language ourselves – are we ready for that?

It’s also a decision that attracts a lot of opinions from other people.  Some are simply intrigued.  They’ve looked at the option themselves but don’t feel confident taking the plunge, so are interested in the reasons we think it’s the best option for our family.  Others don’t understand and don’t take the time to find out more.  They just raise their eyebrows and label us “mad.”

I have also had some negative comments.  A group of people I know very strongly said that we should not send our son there.  They were not big fans of the Gaelic school and made that very clear.  It definitely made us go right back to the start and go through all of our options and research again.  We’ve visited the school and raised the issues that had been raised to me, and we were satisfied with the answers and liked what we saw.
We’ve also looked into our hearts and we know that this is what feels right.

So, we’ve bought some bilingual nursery books for our son which he loves and uses the vocabulary randomly.  We play our CD in the car and we’ve also enrolled our son in a local GME nursery starting this month to see how he takes to it before taking the full plunge in August.  I’ve also applied for the distance learning course – An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – from the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, and signed up with http://www.gaelic2012.org/ to keep in touch with other people who have made the resolution that this year is the year that they will learn Gaelic.

I suppose only time will tell if this is the right decision for us, but for just now we’re going to dive right in and enjoy the ride.

Tìoraidh an-dràsta – bye for now!