Archive for April, 2007

El día de los niños/Children's Day Celebrated Today

Monday, April 30th, 2007

It’s terrific when nationally we all celebrate a certain day – there’s a sense of unity!  And today is one of those days!  Read below for a quick summary of what today is all about…………

“April 30th marks a special day in the lives of children.  It is a day to celebrate children and books.  Known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros, or Children’s Day/Book Day, this is a day to celebrate the joys and wonders of childhood and the importance of books in our lives.

By including books in the celebration, families can begin to develop new habits that will instill a love for books and reading in children.  Reading daily to your child for at least twenty minutes can become a family tradition.  Children will enjoy the experience and grow to love and appreciate books.

These words come right out of a flyer from the American Library Association.  One that I found at a local library while I was doing a children’s event in Spanish and English.  I sure hope you found some of them around your community during the past month or so!  This day of recognition helps us remember how profoundly our children and their lives are touched by books.

It’s challenging to find that recommended 20 minutes a day to read … sometimes I desperately search for the 2 minutes to brush my teeth each morning, the 3 minutes to meditate, the 5 minutes to shower – man, forget about the 15 minutes on the treadmill!!!!!  I remember vaguely when I used to cuddle up with Megan each night and read a book (or two if they were short ones!).  Why did I let that tradition fall by the wayside?  She became such a reader.  As many of our children have done, she used to pick out books at an early, early age and ‘pretend’ to read.  Modeling behavior is the start to learning!

We all realize the importance of making that time available to read.  Reading is the skill that lasts a lifetime.  Teach them to love reading, and they will carry that love with them into grade school and middle school and high school and beyond.  Man!  I needed this kick in the butt today, this celebration of The Day of the Child, to remind me to read, read, read!!! with all three of my kids (can’t you just picture me cuddled up with my soon-to-be-18-year-old?!?!?!).

But, darn it, I need to get those Chicken Soup books out, and at least have my two teen boys choose one story and me choose another and spend some time reading.

Below are some book titles that are from this same flyer that bring Spanish and English together for reading fun.  My philosophy as a mom of three (all of whom are being raised to understand and speak both English and Spanish) and as a teacher of thousands is get our children reading early in two languages.  (Did you know that children receiving instruction in two languages via music or verbal exchange or TV or DVDs read sooner than their monolingual peers?  It’s true!  Reference:  Dr. Ellen Bialystock, 2001)

My Shapes/Mis formas  by Rebecca Emberley

Bebé Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya

Spicy Hot Colors / Colores picantes by Sherry Shahan

Lupe Lupita, Where Are You? / Lupe Lupita, ¿dónde estás? by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza

I chose these four selections because, even if you don’t speak one word of Spanish, the pictures and easy style of text might lend itself to a comfort level that will allow you to at least try them!  Ask a Spanish-speaking friend to help you pronounce words you don’t know, ask another parent who knows Spanish to maybe help you or call me – Boca Beth on our toll free number (1.877.825.2622)!  or e-mail me at bocabeth@bocabeth.com to call you!

Really, I still answer my own phone unless I am out doing a live event somewhere. 

I always return my phone calls so leave a message if I don’t answer.

 Let’s give our children the tools they need to be successful in communicating in this global society – reading and speaking a second language!

Look for my bilingual tips newsletter coming later this week – the Boca Beth Buzz!

Boca Beth

Day of the Child Celebrated With Spanish Songs and Books and Crafts

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

What a terrific celebration of young children!  All week long there is this real focus on children, on books and on the positive things that happen when you put those two together, and it’s called Day of the Child/Day of the Book/El día de los niños.  I have been so fortunate to have been invited to several locations around our Tampa Bay Area to bring bilingual music to the toddlers and preschoolers in attendance at these celebrations held at local libraries.

We have danced with our Boca Beth beats, we have played fun games with Spanish and English mixed together and we have made an educational moment a very fun moment for all families in attendance.  Today I was at the downtown Tampa library with a festival right across the street going on celebrating the people and culture of Puerto Rico.  It was rewarding to be inside the library teaching children words from their country to children from this country.

In fact, a little boy named Aaron (almost 4) was front row and center with his BOCA puppet during the bilingual book time with the library specialists conducting this session.  His BOCA puppet gave away the fact that he was one of my ‘groupies!’  To most everyone’s amazement, little Aaron was belting out the answers in Spanish as prompted.  (Where is the commercial camera when you need it?!?!)

These children (ages 2 years to 14) were introduced to my Boca Beth fun way of learning Spanish right alongside English.  Many times people ask me the cut-off age for my materials.  I try to say that we target children ages birth – about eight.  But can I tell you that a young girl, 9th grader Nicole, made a point of saying to me at the end of my 30 minute children’s bilingual learning class, “Miss Beth, you have inspired me to learn Spanish!  I am part Spanish and I know un poquito.  I am so embarassed I don’t know more.”  To which I asked her, “But don’t you have to have the two years before the end of high school?”  To which she replied with some embarassment, “I haven’t bothered to take it, and my Mom is from Cuba.  You have really made me want to.”

Man!  I mean, Man!  Isn’t THAT what it’s all about?!?!?!  Sure, I got paid for my appearance today with a check, but Nicole paid me in ways more meaningful than that check will ever mean once deposited into our business account.  Her words, the hugs from many of the children in attendance today, the smiles of the parents as they witnessed their little children learning Spanish with my Boca Beth bilingual beats – all of those things add up to the support and love I feel as I give this dream of mine a real college try!

Thanks to all of you who continue to realize that this society of ours warrants a 2nd (and even 3rd or 4th if possible!) language learned – and for choosing Boca Beth as the springboard to jump start your children’s interest, love and enthusiasm for a fun second language journey!

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

Boca Beth

 

 

Singing, Dancing, Playing – We All Learned Spanish This Week

Friday, April 27th, 2007

How do you know when you’ve really touched someone with your product, with your personality, with your teaching style or whatever it is that you bring into this world as your ‘gift?’ 

I remember being at a woman’s event a couple of year’s ago and one of the exercises was to write our own obituary.  We were asked to focus on what contributions we had made in life for different people.  I volunteered to read mine aloud to the group and received (from what I recall) a huge round of applause.  (How very weird it felt to have total strangers clapping for what was to be read during my funeral service!)

My point is, we all want to feel we give somehow, someway to people as we spend our precious time here on Earth.

When I did my live event this week at a local library to celebrate the Day of the Child/El día de los niños, I had one of those truly “Aha!” mornings that helped me realize how very much I am touching people’s lives with my Boca Beth Program.  The Youth Services Specialist from that branch was thrilled to have me, Boca Beth, presenting a fun, interactive children’s class for her normal group of story time families.  The moms, grandparents, kids kept entering the room … until, to this Youth Specialist’s delight, we had 45 people in the little library community room!  (Turn the air conditioning down because we are going to ¡baila, baila, baila! dance, dance, dance!) 

And dance we did, and sing and play and use puppets and instruments to bring Spanish to life for these young children.  “Rojo/Red”  “Ojos/Eyes”  “Uno, dos, tres/One, two, three”  We were all having fun being introduced to Spanish and English in a fun and non-threatening way!  It felt great!  The kids were smiling, the moms, preschool teachers and family members were all so proud as their children belted out new words in a new language.  And the little Latino children (who normally don’t witness such Anglo affection for their native tongue) now were feeling swelled up with pride/orgullo.

I love that the local Spanish TV station was there filming – Bay News 9 en español had Sandra and Bernie there.  I tell you – Bernie, the video tech, had to have had some sore knees that night!  He kept getting right down to the kids’ level to film their interaction with BOCA our puppet, our musical shakers and all of the child sized fun!  He and Sandra were terrific sports during a very busy, very edutaining, very spirited Spanish fun time with Boca Beth!

Later, Sandra (who like many of my amigas here in the Tampa Bay Area – she was born here in the United States and have parents from Columbia) wanted to conduct an interview in Spanish only with me.  Her Spanish was beautiful so my Gringa-fear disappeared!  (For those of you who are so embarassed by your accent from one language to another, you need to lose that baggage and speak away!  It’s the only way to get better at that language, and the native speakers of that country whose language you are trying to speak love the fact that you are attempting to communicate in their native language.  So go for it!)  The interview went well, and even though I am not a native speaker my amigas/amigos tell me my accent/mi acento is beautiful.  (In fact, my first husband’s mom who hailed from Cuba and her husband from Spain used to say to me, “Beth, tu hablas mejor Español que mi hijo./Beth, you speak better Spanish than my son.”)

Something that comes up often as I introduce children to Spanish as a second language is the question or comment on my being a non-native speaker.  Many experts say the optimum experience for a child to be raised bilingually is to have one parent speak one language and the other parent speak the other target language.  Sounds good, right?  But we all know that is not the reality of our lives.  Most of my Boca Beth customers have only one language in the home.  Those who have both Spanish and English available to them admit that they default to one language the majority of the time due to various reasons. 

So, here’s the deal (and I have wanted to address this for a long, long time and now with personal blogs I can do it!) …my speaking Spanish the way I do in our DVDs as BOCA’s voice and singing on our CDs is done purposefully, methodically and in a teaching manner.  When I speak with Jorge (my neighbor/vecino from Ecuador who tells me daily how beautifully I speak his native language!), and I am engaged in a conversation, I speak with native and very near native in my pronunciation.  When all of these children are introduced at a young age via my Boca Beth products they are learning mainly textbook Spanish/Castilian Spanish (though I do not speak with that thicker Castilian accent). 

With over 69 dialects within the Spanish language I am bound to ‘offend’ some Hispanics, Latinas, Latinos but those friends who can get through their own personal baggage of how dare she think she can do this when she is not even from a Spanish-speaking country most often pat me on the back and say, “God Bless You.  You have spent who knows how much money, time, energy and passion on creating something that shares with the general English-speaking communities my native language of Spanish.  Beth, you make me happy because now my little boy feels proud that his mommy and daddy speak Spanish and when we insist on him replying to us in Spanish, you have made it ‘cool’ to speak Spanish in a very English-dominated society.”

All I ever wanted to do with this Boca Beth Program was to make it fun to learn Spanish at a young age for the English speaking child and give their parents and teachers fun, easy and affordable products to make the learning start early even if those parents did not speak Spanish and even if they did not have a teaching degree.  And then I wanted to make it easy and fun for the Spanish-speaking children to get a jump start on learning English with their native language of Spanish next to it as they learned new words.  I wanted every Spanish speaking child who owned one of our CDs and DVDs to feel so proud of their heritage, their native language so that I would never again witness a Latina friend of mine refusing to answer her five year old son unless he spoke in Spanish to her.  I never intended to teach any of these children conversational, let’s-go-travel-in-a-country-and-be-fluent new language!  Goodness!  I would have to charge $279.99 for THAT program!

So, let’s be real.  Boca Beth was born in Florida, lived in Chile as an exchange student for a Summer, lived in Mexico for a Summer and married a Latino guy (that lasted 7 years before the ‘Oh-Oh’ moment!!!).  She stayed fluent in her reading, writing and speaking of Spanish by working and traveling within her community – proud to be bilingual and not ashamed to speak (no matter who might attack my accent – which no one did until I started this Boca Beth Program). 

I think what has happened is I have offended those Spanish speaking people who really feel they should have been the ones to create this line of products.  (I have had two Latinas over the past 5 years actually raise their voices to me at an Educator’s Conference where I was exhibiting and say something to the effect of, “How dare you!  This was my idea.  I have been thinking about doing something just like this for years.”  I felt like saying, “Then you ask your husband to max out the home equity line of credit to the tune of more than $148,000 and you lose sleep working from 2 am – 5 am even when you have to be ready to get all three kids off to school each day with a smile and you learn all there is to learn about not only creating the idea but putting it into a real, tangible product but also about how to take that product to market, how to get some PR for it, how to network and build relationships and how to maintain your integrity and love and passion for what started it all in the first place.”)

But I have recently accepted Jesus into my life, and I am too Christian in my ways now to come back at them with that reply.  For I know deep down they need to deal with their own selves while I need to just keep walking with the Lord as he guides me on this journey to be a fantastic mom who is raising three children to be respectful of others and appreciate every day (especially since their Grandma just passed on to the Lord one month ago tomorrow), to be a great partner and to share my gift of teaching with families worldwide.

Technorati Profile“>NOW BACK TO THE END OF MY LIVE EVENT…….By the end of the Boca Beth fun session every child had a BOCA BETH sticker, most had a high five/cinco or a hug/abrazo for me, Boca Beth, and most every parent thanked me with sincere appreciation for the effort they realized I have put into creating a program that brings together these two languages.  It is so often about being an entrepreneur and the business side of things lately as I enter my fifth full year of doing only Boca Beth.  I gave up big bucks in the restaurant industry to follow my passion, my dream.  It’s been challenging living on one income when we were so used to two with a family of five (and Molly the calico cat!).  We have had to say “no” often to the kids for things (the 17-year-old still can’t believe we won’t HAND a car to him and pay for insurance to boot!  In your dreams buddy!).  We have had to skip family vacations because mom was producing ANOTHER CD that year.  We have had to put up with my cooking lots more instead of Chilis!

But then there’s been the up side of it . . . the time we got the order for NetFlix.com, the phone call from the Associated Press journalist who wanted my thoughts on raising bilingual children when both parents speak only one language, the article in Scholastic/Instructor Magazine and so much more.  We always hear – take the highs with the lows!  All of us do that – it’s just the juggling act of making certain we never get too low, nor too high!  (Oh, but I love those really high moments and so dislike the lows – even though I try to learn from them all.)

Man, I guess I really needed to get that native vs. non-native thing off my chest (and after nursing three kids I really can’t afford to lose any of that chest!!!).  I welcome your feed back on this – those of you who own my CDs and DVDs as well as those of you just stopping by.  I might have hit a ‘cord’ with some of you and then others who have known me since the beginning may be so surprised that I even have to deal with this aspect of the production.

Either way, bottom line, it is truly all about the children…

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

Boca Beth

 

Changing the World One Bilingual Song At A Time – One American Idol Donation At A Time

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

It’s been a wonderful day in so many ways.  I was so blessed to be invited to celebrate in the Day of the Children/Dia de los ninos.  Around my town of the Tampa Bay area there are many celebrations marking the Day of the Children with FREE programs at local libraries!  I was invited to share my Boca Beth interactive class with about 45 moms, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and preschool teachers with their children in tow!

We had a blast!  We sang!  We danced!  We played in Spanish and English!  Bay News 9 en Espanol took the time out to come and film the bilingual fun with the children, and I even had a chance to exchange many kind words and thoughts on bilingual learning with Sandra Pinto (a reporter with Bay News 9 en Espanol and terrific mom). 

Then I arrived back to my home office to great news of having the opportunity to have our bilingual DVDs on a major retailer shelf soon, soon, soon!  The hopes and dreams of every entrepreneur is to have their dream, their passion, their product in a major brick and mortar store so that we can reach the masses.  I have put something together that I know solves a very common problem of today’s parents worldwide, and finally I feel like I am making that break across the barriers to share what is really needed to improve the communication of our world’s youth – one song at a time!

But, truly the very best part of my day has been when our first grade daughter brought out her $1 after Ellen asked the kids to do so during the American Idol “Idol Gives Back” Special.  Megan asked me to donate her dollar while I donated our portion to the cause of saving children across our country and across the world.  I made the contribution with Megan typing in the URL and us working as a family unit to donate to others less fortunate.

What a gift!  What a moment in parenting!  I know that one day I will be able to give more – I want so much to do more!  I want to do live events with these children to bring smiles and love, I desire to hug and give besos/kisses to those children whose tears we saw across the big screen tonight, and I vow to make a difference with children facing tomorrow’s future.

I hope you have given to your favorite charity recently that provides for those less fortunate, I pray that you see the need to look beyond our fenced yards and wonderful lives, and I wish for a better tomorrow for those faces splashed across the big “American Idol” screen as we sat in the comfort of our homes tonight.

With love, hope and prayers –

Boca Beth

 

 

Making Spanish Fun For Young Children and Their Parents

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

It’s been a really crazy start to 2007 (and then you might say, “Hey, Beth! Oye, did you notice it’s already April?!?!) I know, I know. It is April, but seriously, can YOU believe that one third of the year has almost zipped by us? On one hand it seems that ball dropped in Times Square ages and ages ago, then on another hand I distinctly remembering I would review where we were as a company in 2006 and set a clearer course for 2007 only days ago!

I am really looking forward to this new blog…after almost 5 months with the other blog host, it just wasn’t working. Now I have a new energy, a new sense of commitment (kind of like that diet we seem to start at the onset of a New Year or before a trip to some sunny beach!) to make this blog what it’s supposed to be for you and for me!

Back to that sense of direction, clearer course for 2007! I made it my personal goal this year to increase my live events where I would share my passion for second language learning/fun/introduction for young children via their teachers, care providers and parents. I have booked myself with keynote engagements and workshops on the topics of being a motivated educator to bringing Spanish fun to children to creating great readers with Boca Beth bilingual beats! I will be presenting in Florida many times, Ohio, California and Arkansas along with trips planned to Washington and Puerto Rico. I encourage any of you who want me to speak at your family child care association conferences, homeschooling conventions, your moms’ group conventions, your family expo events and so on to simply give us a call on our toll free number, 1.877.825.2622 or e-mail me today!

Tomorrow I do another of my many live interactive Spanish and English classes for children ages birth to six. Last week we had a 4-month-old just staring at BOCA the puppet and me, Boca Beth, dancing and singing to our bilingual music while her big brother played with our shapes during our “I Know My Shapes/Yo sé mis formas” song. (Click right there to read the easy-to-learn lyrics from my second Boca Beth CD.) It’s going to be a busy Summer ahead with these local classes at libraries, and it’s soooooo cool because they are free for the moms and kids! It really gives me a chance to get hands on with the little ones (and realize that I best get back on the treadmill more often if I am going to keep pace with these preschoolers!).

So, it’s off to the world of wonderful blogging, pinging, learning and growing! Wish me well on this journey and check back for some cool stuff ahead!

Happy Educating! ¡Sea feliz educando!

Boca Beth