Playgroup keeps youngsters in touch with Brazil
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.