2018 has been pretty exciting so far! Growing Pēpi Rima (Baby #5!) and creating my other "baby," my board book series called "Kōrero Mai - Speak to Me." Sharing my love of New Zealand's languages is so close to my heart. Connecting with little people in Te Reo Māori, New Zealand Sign Language and English is totally do-able for everyone, from baby's day dot, and I wanted to create some books that anyone could pick up and use to give it a go. You don't need to be an expert to get started. I'm not qualified in Te Reo Māori or NZSL, I'm a mum and a teacher who loves language and learns alongside her students and own children.
The most important aspects of communicating with your baby are FREE and are a part of you already! Making eye contact, kanohi ki te kanohi, using facial expression, talking, kōrero, singing, waiata, cuddling, playing and more talking are all you need to connect and communicate with your baby. The books I've created are a tool to add to your kete, to add to your cuddles and to your play. They include NZSL so that you can begin to sign with your baby, which they can start to use sooner than spoken words. Sharing Te Reo Māori with your baby exposes them to the sounds of Aotearoa and introduces them to this beautiful taonga.
Research around brain development says that the more you talk with your child, the more your child's brain will be receptive to language and, simply, the more connections their brain will make! The research also shows that introducing sign language gives them an avenue to express themselves much earlier than other verbal language alone which really helps with their confidence and frustration levels.
I've been a primary teacher for 17 years and I've noticed a huge decline in the communication skills of children when they enroll at age five or six. Many children are arriving speaking at the age expected of a two year old. This is not for lack of love, this is for lack of communication, communication of the genuine kind that involves engagement, time and fun! Books can be a fundamental tool to communicating, connecting and bonding with our children.
Working with wonderful people on this project has been the real highlight for me. Connecting with the deaf community and with fluent speakers of Te Reo Māori is so humbling and inspiring. The overwhelming feeling I get from these beautifully generous people is how much they want to share their language with others.
Working with an amazing publisher who knows her field and loves language and children as much as I do, has been a real pleasure. Academy Book Company, you are amazing at what you do! (especially you Marianne!) I tell you honestly, publishers earn every dollar and cent they make from every book they produce. I published the first edition of "Kōrero Mai - Speak to Me" myself. I learnt all about importing and insurance, printing and shipping costs the hard way! So I have really appreciated the responsibility of all the nuts and bolts stuff being off my shoulders so that I can do what I love; create and share my love of language and learning.
So 2018 is proving to be one of learning and growth in so many ways! I can't wait to share my new books with my new baby come August! And hopefully your wee ones even sooner.
p.s...You can pre-order now buy clicking on the books below...they'll be released in June! Woo hoooooo!