Play­group keeps young­sters in touch with Brazil

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

On Tues­days a group of chil­dren in San­dring­ham dance to a dif­fer­ent beat.

Sis­la­nia Vas­con­ce­los and Mon­ica Silveira started a Brazil­ian play­group at the com­mu­nity cen­tre in July last year.

They wanted to en­sure their chil­dren learned the lan­guage and cul­ture of their home coun­try.

‘‘We thought, the kids are grow­ing up and they talk to us in English all the time. We need to meet in a place where they can play and speak Por­tuguese more,’’ Mrs Vas­con­ce­los says.

‘‘Know­ing your roots and where you come from helps you form your iden­tity. They don’t have to choose be­tween be­ing Kiwi or Brazil­ian, they can ac­tu­ally be both.’’

The San­dring­ham res­i­dent says her son Fran­cisco, who is al­most 2, and her 3-year-old daugh­ter Sofia have shown a marked im­prove­ment in their Por­tuguese lan­guage skills thanks to the play­group.

Roberta Mariz brings her daugh­ter Melissa, 4, and her friend’s daugh­ter Vicky Dal­cuque, 4, to the ses­sions.

Melissa has be­come more in­ter­ested in Brazil as a re­sult, Mrs Mariz says.

‘‘Now she knows Brazil is a coun­try, the mu­sic is dif­fer­ent and it’s far from New Zealand. It makes me proud. I try to teach her things my­self but I think in the group they feel more stim­u­lated.’’

Some­times Melissa speaks half in English and half in Por­tuguese but that doesn’t worry her mother.

‘‘Even though she mixes them I know in the fu­ture she’ll be able to dis­tin­guish be­tween them.

‘‘Even now she is start­ing to sep­a­rate them and I can see her im­prove­ment.’’

Around a dozen un­der-5 year-olds at­tend the weekly ses­sions which have a strong ed­u­ca­tional fo­cus.

Chil­dren en­joy dancing and play­ing in­stru­ments like the tam­bourine in time with Brazil­ian mu­sic.

The songs teach them use­ful vo­cab­u­lary like the Por­tuguese words for var­i­ous fruit and the al­pha­bet.

The group cel­e­brates cul­tural fes­ti­vals held in Brazil such as Car­ni­val, In­dian Day and Chil­dren’s Day.

Par­ents pay a gold coin do­na­tion for each ses­sion and they also hold fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.


Proud mul­ti­cul­tural: Roberta Mariz holds her daugh­ter Melissa, right, and friend Vicky Dal­cuque.

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