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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Start a Chinese-Speaking Playgroup in Your Area

Have you searched high and low for a Chinese-speaking playgroup for your child but there is none in your area?  Still haven't found one?

If you speak Chinese yourself, and think there are like-minded parents around you who would like their kids to be exposed to Chinese too, why not start your own Chinese-speaking playgroup?

A playgroup doesn't have to be a big group, and it does not have to be fancy.  Your playgroup can meet at a regular time weekly, and you can have the kids sing Chinese songs, have Chinese storytelling, planned activities, free playtime and simple snacks together.  The activities can be an hour per week, but as you all regularly gather, surely the kids will somehow become more familiar with speaking Chinese.

So how to start a play group?  Here are some tips.  Feel free to modify these reminders as you go along, depending on the kids' and parents' needs.  The only 2 sticky rules are to speak in Chinese, and have a great time!

1.  As mentioned, gather Chinese-speaking parents who want their kids to be more exposed to Chinese language.

2.  Post fliers and brochures in community centers to gather more parents. 

Sample text in the flier can be:

Want to gain Chinese-speaking friends for you and your kids?  We are a group of parents looking for families who want to join a Chinese-speaking play program.  We meet every (put day and time) at (put venue) for 1 hour of play, songs and stories in the Chinese language.  If interested, please call _____________.  Hope to meet with you soon!

3.  A good number for a Chinese play group is 7-15.  Not everyone will be present all the time, but anything more can get challenging to manage.

4.  Have  a regular meeting day.

5.  Rotate hosts per session.  It might also be a great idea to rotate organizers for several months at a time.

6.  Try having play sessions in enclosed areas so the kids can focus more and have fun.

7.  Sample play session program:
Welcome song/ activity
Activity or free play
Simple snack
Clean up time
Goodbye song
Only rule is to encourage everyone to speak Chinese. And don't forget when kids have fun, they learn better, so take things easy and be happy.

Ideas from The Bilingual Edge by Kendall King and Alison Mackey.

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