5 Things I Do to Empower My Multicultural Girls

I will just go ahead and say it – multiculturalism doesn’t protect you from being closed-minded. And in order to give your child the understanding of what it means to be a global citizen, you still need to work towards it. That’s why I want to share with you 5 Things I do to empower my multicultural girls.

1. Teach acceptance. I don’t mean accepting the mess that our world is going through. I don’t mean accepting that “people are not perfect”. I mean accepting for who you are: your appearance, your character, the way you talk and the way you walk.

2. Teach tolerance. I don’t mean tolerating bullies. I don’t mean tolerating gender inequality. I mean understanding and accepting the differences, yet being able to stand up for what you believe in.

3. Teaching peacefulness. I don’t mean standing by when something awful happens in front of your eyes. I don’t mean ignoring the world around you for the sake of your inner peace. I mean the ability of solving problems through peaceful means.

4. Teaching equality. I don’t mean erasing the importance of genders, cultures, races. I mean teaching that unity lies in diversity and that we are all created in harmony with one another.

5. Teaching love for humanity. I don’t mean giving into things or letting things slide because we love someone. I mean loving and accepting all people despite where they come from, what language they speak and what colour their skin is.

How do you empower your girls?

Women's History Month Series on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Join us for our annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2016 and 2015, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Women’s History on Pinterest.

March 2

Hispanic Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 3 Latinas Who Nevertheless Persisted

March 6

Colours of Us: 30 Diverse Children’s Anthologies About Trailblazing Women

March 7

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Women in History Spanish Children’s Books

March 12

Crafty Moms Share: Betty Before X Book Review

March 13

Let the Journey Begin

March 14

Creative World of Varya: 5 Things I do to Empower My Multicultural Girls

March 15

Melibelle in Tokyo

March 19

Madh Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs

March 20

Kampuchea Crossings

March 23

Ketchup Moms

March 27

A Crafty Arab

March 29

Family in Finland

March 30

Mama Tortuga

Don’t miss our Women’s History Month Activity Printables, on sale now!

Women's History Month Activity Printables

Tips on Motivating Your Child to Learn a Minority Language


I have mentioned on several occasions that our family is multilingual. My husband speaks 5 languages. I speak fluently 3. Our children are growing up trilingual as well.

I will admit, though, that it hasn’t been easy for me  to maintain our minority language – Russian – in the family. I don’t follow OPOL, I switch languages. I am also not the most consistent when it comes to speaking Russian to my children.

Actually, I was quite consistent till my older 2 turned 2. Then, they just chose English as their main language as it is the language in our home, and most of our friends speak English, too.

I have many times felt guilt of not being more persistent with teaching them Russian. Until one day, my oldest, who went through a stage between 3 and 4 absolutely despising speaking Russian to showing high interest in it and picking up more and more. And even asking me to teach her in a more formal way!

And then, my 3 year old, who is still refusing to speak Russian, suddenly started reciting Russian alphabet and numbers 1-10. Which happened due to her always enjoying playing with a so-called computer – an interactive toy we brought back from our last trip in 2015, that allows you to listen to the letters and words associated with them; and has some matching and guessing games. So, she learned the alphabet and she can recognise the letters in a complete random order!

All of this made me think that unconsciously I have been actually helping my children become interested in their mother tongue, which has become the minority language.

And so, I tried several things that have since been motivating for all 3 kids (with the youngest still using more English but understanding and replying in Russian when asked to).

So, here are the tips that motivate my children to learn their minority language:

1. Having books in this language at home and actually reading them to your children. In our home we encourage reading in general and our kids love books. They often ask me to read something for them.

2. Showing them cartoons in this minority language. Something so simple like Masha And the Bear (in relation to Russian), where there aren’t many words but they are quite repetitive. Kids love it and the learn the words and phrases, and what meaning they are  associated with. At least once a week when they asked to watch TV I give them a condition that it should be a Russian cartoon. They can take it, or leave it. In our case it is a 100% success.

3. Meeting other people who speaks this language and having a conversation in front of the kids. It can be a real conversation or a Skype call with your family. Let’s face it: kids are curious! They always listen on the background what you are talking about. They may not seem to be paying attention, but they are playing and learning. And at some point they WILL ask you what you were taking about and you can encourage them to learn the language.

4. Playing with other children who speak this language. This is not always possible depending on where you live. But grab any opportunity! Kids learn from each other.

5. Using technology: online learning programs, apps and more. All of this in combination and in moderation raises awareness, promotes motivation to learn this language.

6. If possible and affordable – sign them up for special classes. My oldest is not having fun learning Chinese characters. So we signed her up for a special calligraphy class where she is enjoying painting and writing the characters more than ever.

7. Visiting countries that speak this language is very beneficial, too. It can also be a virtual trio!

8. Avoiding pushing. No, it doesn’t mean not to try speaking to your child in this language. It simply means if they child is feeling very strong and is refusing – do not punish him/her, do not get frustrated, or discouraged. Revisit it again.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please share your own!

Five Things I learned Mothering Multilingual Children


When I was little, I knew I wanted to learn foreign languages. I dreamed of traveling to other cities and countries. I was and I still am fascinated with travels and cultures.

I have asked myself a question when I was younger whether I saw myself getting married to someone from another culture, country and leaving my “nest”. It was some kind of distant dream and I was inspired by beautiful stories about such marriages from books and movies.

I can’t say that the reality is not exciting
or boring. But being in a multicultural marriage and bringing up a multicultural family is work. Being a parent is work, whether it is in the same culture or not. There are challenges, but there are plenty of rewards. The main one being assured that your children are growing up embracing the world as their home. Embracing all people as equal, despite the nationality. Despite the race. Despite the social status.

We are also fortunate enough to experience the world through an expat experience. I personally think it is even more challenging being a third culture kid (TCK) who speaks several languages. But again – there are great rewards and benefits in that.

My oldest speaks 3 languages. My second speaks 1, understands 2 more. And our youngest, who still doesn’t speak one, seems to have a good understanding of 3 languages as well.

Mothering multilingual children has some interesting sides and I wanted to share 7 things I learned so far in the process.

1. Choose a method for supporting your mother tongue that suits you the best: you can go OPOL (one parent – one language) and stick to it stricly; or you can switch languages – the results may or may not be the same. But the amount of exposure is great either way.

2. If your child is resisting speaking his/her mother tongue – don’t get upset. Keep up with it, encourage in gentle ways. You don’t really want your child to hate your language, do you? In reality, there WILL be time when the need will arise to learn and to speak it. And your child WILL show more interest.

3. We are raising global citizens. Exposing them to as many languages as possible will not confuse them: it will give them more chances to use different parts of their conscious and subconscious, develop them in the ways we never had a chance to develop.

4. Where there is a will – there is a way. We are so fortunate that we have tons of free and paid resources available for learning languages. And that multilingualism exists and is promoted all over the world. No matter how busy you are, there is always an opportunity to find these materials and use them.

5. Follow your gut feeling. And when you ask for advice on how to support a language at home – filter the answers according to what suits you and your family best. There will always be people giving you grieve about not being consistent with one language or another. Do not let them discourage you or worry too much. Everyone learns in their own pace.

Reading the above, you probably wonder why I am coming so strong with my statements and where I get these ideas. Quick look at my 3 children:

Miss T. Started off by speaking Russian to her but when we travelled to Russia I spoke English and I was told I was confusing her. She was 23 months when she chose English as her first language. At 3 she used to scream at me not to speak Russian to her. At 5 she was thrilled with the fact that her cousins speak Russian and insisted I teach her. She was already fluent in Mandarin by then. Now, at 7+ she is understands about 70% of what I say in Russian and responds in about 40% of times. She is still eager to learn. And we are working on it

Miss A. Spoke Russian to her and switch to English occasionally till she was 2. She didn’t speak much till she was 3. Chose English. Knows Russian alphabet and numbers, can recognize them randomly. Understands 70% of what I say. Refuses to respond in Russian. I am not pushing. She is also learning Mandarin Chinese in school. Has excellent memory and remembers all songs she ever learned in 3 languages. I suspect she also understands 40% of what my mother-in-law says in Farsi.

Mini Man. At 20 months he understands and follows 3 languages simultaneously: Russian, English and Farsi. He doesn’t speak much. But words he says, he speaks them in 3 languages. He will definitely choose English as his first because it is the language in the family. But I hope he will respond more in Russian and Farsi soon!

So, this is what I learned Mothering multilingual children. How about your experience?

Please join us in celebrating International Mother Language Day on February 27th! Join our Facebook Group to see more posts dedicated to this celebration!

MCCBD Books Review: Lee & Low Books


Miss T is a real book worm. At 7 her level of reading and comprehension is pretty high. So I always try to offer her some challenging books that would increase her general reading level as well as teach her some new and interesting things.

So, this year for Multicultural Book Day I have requested to be paired up with an author who has books for older kids. That’s how I was introduced to Lee & Low Books, Inc. who are incidentally has already been connected with Multicultural Kid Blogs Community that I belong to.

I was send 3 books for review and below are my honest opinions as a mother and a reader.


Amazing Places   by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

This was my most favorite book as it is a collection of beautiful illustrations and poems that represent some of the greatest places and items of American heritage. Traveling through Chinatown in one moment and crossing over the Grand Canyon in another; learning about Liberty Bell on one page and jumping into the Niagara Falls on another.

The selection of poems is so in tune with every place illustrated in the book that for a child’s imagination it is as if you were there visiting.

I would recommend this book for children from 7 years up with more advanced reading skills. However, I am sure a younger child, say, 5-6 years old, would also enjoy looking at the pictures and listening to the poems.


The Monster in the Mudball   by S. P. Gates.

This is a fantasy/mystery about a boy Jin who accidentally releases a monster his neighbour was keeping for many years away from the world. It is not a very heavy reading, however I was hesitant to give it to my 7 year old to read as there are some scary moments.

And even the concept that the monster likes to eat babies would alone be a cause for some unpleasant dreams. But when she is older, she will definitely enjoy this story as it is filled with some riddles and exciting moments of anticipation.

I would recommend this book for children over 12 years old.


Drift   by M. K. Hutchins.

Now, this is a book I enjoyed reading myself. It is based on lots of Native American, Mayan per se, traditions and tells a story of Tenjat and his sister Eflet who live on a Turtle island and fight for survival every day, going through daolut struggles facing bullies, and discovering a secret about their own heritage amazing and dangerous enough to destroy their lives and everyone’s on their island.

This is a very interesting fantasy book. It brings about the culture that has been almost forgotten, reviving certain concepts and ideas, and giving us a glimpse what live might have looked like during Mayan period.

I would recommend this book children over 15 years old.

I am grateful to Lee & Low for letting me get familiar with some of the books they have published. I hope in the future we get to read more books from them.


Pleas join us today in celebrating Multiculturalism through books by visiting our main page and linking your favorite multicultural books reviews!

Join the Twitter Party Today 9-10pm EST – lots of books to be given away!

Daria Music App {Review}


As I am catching up on blogging this year, I am working with some of the amazing bloggers, authors and artists!

Today I’d like to introduce you to an app that contains different music from around the world by my blogger friend and fellow MKB member – Daria of Daria’s Music!

I always liked Daria’s colorful and rich art: her DIY instruments, her sense of music, and, of course, her beautiful voice.

Her new music app combines lots of her creations that introduce folk and traditional music from around the world.

One moment you are in South America signing Bate Bate Chocolate, and another – in Arabia, singing along to Assalam Aleykum!

You can download the app over at Adroid Playstore, iTunes and on desktop computer by visiting Daria’s page on Playrific.

Enjoy the music from around the world and download this wonderful app for free! It is filled with songs, games and puzzles for you and your little one to explore!

Follow Daria’s YouTube Channel for more music!

Simple Lebanese Lunch {MKB North Africa and Middle East Heritage Series}


I have mentioned earlier that from myother-in-law’s side our children have a Lebanese heritage. My MIL was born and grew up in Lebanon , she spoke Arabic to all her 4 children. With years she adapted cooking from various cuisine and the meals she makes are a fusion of Middle Eastern, Asian and Western food.

Recently our aunt from Lebanon was visiting and she and mom made a simple Lebanese meal, very easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Kousa (Kussa, Koussa, Kossa)

– 2 medium size zucchini
– 1/4 of an onion
– 1-2 garlic cloves
– 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
– salt to taste
– spices: half a teaspoon of each turmeric and coriander powder
– lemon juice

1. Wash and gently scrub the zucchini with dull side of the knife to peel off excessive skin. Cut into small cubes.
2. In a pan warm up olive oil, add spices, fry for 30-40 seconds, add finely chopped onion and garlic. Fry for another 30-40 sec.
3. Add zucchini. Stir-fry for a minute or two, add salt, lower the fire, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, cover and let it simmer. In some time the liquid will start coming out. Keep them steeping on low fire until the liquid is nearly gone. Stir occasionally and don’t let it burn.
4. Transfer to a flat dish, spread and let it cool. Serve with lemon juice.
Note: this dish is best to be served cold. It doesn’t need reheating. You can cool it in the fridge. And it is best to be eaten with bread (pita, naan or any regulations bread).

Alternative to hummus

– 1 can of chickpeas, water drained completely; or 1 large cup of cooked chickpeas
– 2 cloves of garlic
– juice of 1 lemon
– salt
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil

1. Mash the garlic in a bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix and let it sit for a couple of minutes
2. Add chickpeas, mix well. Serve with any food

Green (Garden) salad

– few leaves of lettuce
– a small cucumber
– a small tomato
– 1/4 of cabbage head or 1/2 of small cabbage
– small bunch of parsley
– small bunch of mint
– half of capsicum
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– juice of half lemon
– a bunch of olives

Chop tomato, capsicum and cucumber. Shredd cabbage. Cut/ tear lettuce, parsley and mint. Mix it all up. Add salt to taste, lemon juice. Mix and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Add olive oil. Mix and let it see for few more minutes. Add olives. Serve with you favorite dishes.

So, these are 3 ingredients of a simple Lebanese meal. In Lebanese cuisine lemon is used a lot and vinegar too. So a lot of dishes have a sour lemony taste. My husband and my children love lemon and can just eat it like that – must be their Lebanese “genes” !

This post is a part of MKB North Africa and Middle East Heritage Series! See below more information and don’t forget to enter the giveaway on MKB!

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Blog Series and Giveaway
.  Please visit our landing page
for the full schedule and to link up any of your posts on sharing Middle Eastern and North African heritage with kids.  And don’t forget to enter our giveaway below!


Our giveaway runs through the month of August, so enter below for a chance to win!  Some prizes have shipping restrictions.  If the winner is outside of the shipping area of one of the prizes, that prize will then be included in the next prize package.  (See our full giveaway rules

Grand Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, The Complete Middle East Cookbook

Traditional recipes with clear instructions for the modern cook

From Medina Publishing, Discovering Islamic Art

A generously illustrated child’s guide to Islamic art, complete with activity sheets

From A Crafty Arab, Arabic Animal Alphabet Poster
: Beautiful artwork with unique designs to teach Arabic letters

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Olive Tree

(US shipping only): A beautiful tale of friendship set in Lebanon

1st Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, An Edible Mosaic

A cookbook of favorite Middle Eastern recipes

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria

(US shipping only): Fascinating biography of Emir Abdel Kader, heroic 19th century leader and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Green Musician

(US shipping only): A magical story of patience and determination, adapted from the original Persian tale

From GeoToys, Geo Puzzle Africa and the Middle East
(US contiguous states shipping only): Jumbo sized puzzle for ages 4 and up

2nd Prize

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month Series and Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Chicago Review Press, Kid’s Guide to Arab American History

(US shipping only): Award-winning guide to the diversity of Arab American experience, with fun extension activities and biographies of famous Arab Americans

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock

(US shipping only): A retelling of a legendary Persian tale of heroism and love.

From Salaam Designs, 4 piece Holiday Cookie Cutter set
(US shipping only): boxed set: Boxed set perfect for Ramadan and Eid includes Crescent, Star, Ramadan lantern (Fanoos), & Mosque.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MKB Vlogging Telephone 2015 – CWOV

I am happy to participate in the Vlogging Telephone project organized and hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs!

My answer is to the question by Sarah of A Life with Subtitles :
What are some of  the funny situations you’ve experienced with code switching and raising multilingual kids?

Vlogging Telephone: Code Switching from VaryaCWOV on Vimeo.

Watch my answer below and then stop by The European Mama’s blog to see my question and answer to it!

Below is the list of participating blogs in order of questions – answers!

MKB Vlogging Telephone: Raising Multilingual Kids

A Life with Subtitles on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Creative World of Varya
European Mama
Kid World Citizen
All Done Monkey
the piri-piri lexicon
La Cité des Vents
Españolita…¡sobre la marcha!
Russian Step by Step
Multilingual Parenting
Bilingual Avenue
Tales from the Waygook Mama
Finding Dutchland

Book Review: Enough of Frankie Already! {Multicultural Children’s Book Day}


Up until 1 year ago I had no idea there is a Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I am very happy to take part in it this year.

Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom teamed up in late 2013 to create an ambitious (and much needed) international event. On January 27th, 2015 this dynamic duo is hosting yet another Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.

I was given an opportunity to participate by reviewing a book by the author Felicia Capers called Enough of Frankie Already! The book is directed at the issue of bullying and offers as many examples of bullying as some of the solutions of how to advocate against bullying.

{Disclaimer}: I received a copy of ebook from the author in exchange for this review. However, all the opinions are strictly my own.

I liked the style of writing and vivid illustrations. The book is written in an easy comprehensive way and targets students from grade 1 up. The story is narrated by a character of the book – Amir – who, among other students in his school, is being bullied by a boy called Frankie.

It is quite obvious from the book, just as it is in reality, that often teachers don’t notice that bullying takes place. Simple things like pulling someone or taking away the ball seem as innocent quarrels between children, however, the reality could be much more harsh as many children in schools suffer from being bullied by their peers or children from older grades.

The solution in the end of the book is simple – children initiate an anti-bullying campaign, and even Frankie the bully gets involved.

There is also a list of questions to discuss with the students and with own children at home after reading the book. I think it is especially thoughtful since sometimes it is hard even for adults to formulate such questions.

I think we are quite lucky here in China as bullying is still not a huge problem here in regular schools – the intense system of studying and long hours at school don’t really leave children with much opportunities to neither play nor bully others. Though, I did hear about some incidents as unfortunately there is always a child or a few who take “pride” in trying to dominate others.

Multicultural Book Day

The Multicultural Children’s Book Day team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along via book reviews, author visits, multicultural booklists and visit the huge multicultural book review link-up that will occur on the MCCBD website 1/27/15.

Here are some ways you can help us celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day

  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website and view our booklists, reading resources and other useful multicultural information.
  • Visit our Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
  • Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
  • Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share.
  • Visit our Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on our website.
  • Visit MCCBDsponsors (you can find them HERE)
  • Create a Multicultural Children’s Book Day display around the classroom or library.
  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website on January 27thto view and participate in our huge blogger link-up, multicultural book reviews, giveaways and more!

Other Fun Details:

Our Sponsor Line-up Platinum Sponsors:Wisdom Tales Press,Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing,East West Discovery Press.

Our CoHosts: We have NINE amazing Co-Host. You can view them here.

-MCCBD now has its own Paper.li! A Paper.li is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. Please feel free subscribe and stay up-to-date with this topic.

-Connect with us on our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MulticulturalChildrensBookDay

-Connect with us on our new Twitter https://twitter.com/MCChildsBookDay

If you would like more information, or have questions regarding Multicultural Children’s Book Day, please contact Valarie Budayr at Valarie@AudreyPress.com or Mia Wenjen at pragmaticmomblog@gmail.com

Thank you so much for your support!

Special Guest Thursday: Super – Noche {Kid World Citizen}

Welcome to Special Guest Thursday!
When I first started blogging seriously I virtually met some incredible bloggers and even wrote guest posts for them. One of them is Becky of Kid World Citizen – a blog and an amazing source for everything in regard of raising global citizens. I was impressed how easy going Becky was and how multicultural and accepting her family was.
Today I am very happy to have her as a special Thursday guest. Being a mom of 5 she shares some insights on and importance of family traditions and how to organise a date night with children!


Becky is the mom of 5 multicultural kids, an ESL teacher, author of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners and founder of KidWorldCitizen.org. She is passionate about activities that teach kids cultural and global awareness, and shares them on TpT, facebook and twitter.


Wherever I go, I am asked if I own a daycare or run a school. It could be because I have 5 kids (it’s only five though, we’re not as large as the  Duggar’s!)… or because the kids look like they are all almost the same age (our 9 year olds are 3 months apart and our 7 year olds are 1 month apart.. and we are fostering a baby boy). Probably though, it’s because our family has a mixture of cultures, and kids who are both biological and adopted, and it’s hard to believe: “they are all yours!?”


When we were trudging through the immense amount of papers and social worker visits in order to be “approved” as an adoptive or foster family, we had to take hours of training on raising children. Due to the nature of adoption, our kids have been through traumas that have changed their little hearts and minds, in order to protect themselves.

The most important job of any parent is to surround our children with unconditional love, so they feel (and are) protected, attended to, accepted, and adored. Because the bonding process is intensified with kids who have lost the only family they have known, our training included ways to facilitate attachment, and to connect with our children. One of the most important ways to do so is to spend one-on-one time with each of your children, on a consistent basis- no screens, no phones, no interruptions.


Agreeing that it’s necessary to give individual attention is one thing, but going through with it is the challenge- we’re all either working, hustling through chores, chauffeuring kids to sports and dance and violin, trying to get dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc. The list is endless! And yet- whether you are an adoptive family, whether you work inside the home, outside the home, whether you have 10 kids or a singleton, whether you’re a single parent, or you have grandparents nearby (well, then I’m really envious), – all of our kids can benefit from a little dedicated, individual attention.

One way our family has fun with this is to plan a“date night”— or as we call it in our house a “super-noche” (Spanish for “super night”).

We started off when the kids were little, as a way for either me or my husband to take one (or sometimes 2) of our kids on a special outing at night- sometimes even on  school night! Sometimes it’s dressing up and going out for ice cream or hot cider, other times it’s going to see a show, go on a long bike ride, or go dancing in the Town Square. It doesn’t have to be expensive- in fact my sons’ favorite super-noche is to go to a nearby stream and throw rocks in the water. We have spent hours walking by the water looking for baby alligators (we live outside Houston!) and talking about “stuff.”

Without the interruptions of the other kids, and with no hurry to get back, the conversation flows easily. We made a rule that anything we talk about on a super-noche is a secret from the other kids, and all of a sudden I’m hearing stories from school and the playground that they didn’t want to share at the dinner table: who likes who, or something embarrassing or silly. 


Our date nights have become a family tradition that I hope we will continue throughout their lives. With our busy schedules and homework and crazy running after school, these special times are one way we reconnect with each of our kids. Thought our super-noches might only last about an hour, we hope the memories of the special times last much longer.

Special Guest Thursday: First Day of School {Russian Step by Step Children}

In some places school already started,  in others it is the middle of the term or the school is about to start.
Today I would like to share insights on First Day of School by my special guest – Anna from Russian Step by Step Children.

Anna has shared more insights on the subject over at Kid World Citizen,  so please stop by and check them out!


Anna Watt is originally from Russia and majored in Education and Linguistics there.  She lived in France where she received her Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication.  Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian.  Anna loves education, languages and technology, so she is always involved in all three.  Anna has always been involved in supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wide.   As a mother of young girls her recent project is books and a blog Russian Step By Step Children geared towards kids living outside a Russian-speaking country. You can follow Anna on Facebook , Twitter , Goggle+, LinkedIn and Pinterest


A while ago I came across a fun article on the blog of Transparent Language about a great first day of school tradition in Germany and their sugar cones [Zuckertüte ]. It was different from what we have in Russia, but still a definite celebration. As I met many people from different countries around the world I was surprised to find out that first, the tradition to celebrate the first day of school is not part of the norm in a lot of countries, and second, when and how the first day of school goes in different countries is different and interesting.

So I decided to share with you the information on the celebrations of the first day of school in some countries. The information I gathered was mostly from my friends but also from the students from the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

While some are rather informative, other are not, and depending on the age of the writer might be more outdated, but I found them fun to read and watch, hope you will too!

I will have a longer more detailed series of articles about the first of school celebration in Russia on my website Russian Step By Step Children.


Anna, Russian Step by Step Children

The school year always starts on the first of September. Always. Even if it’s a week-end. It is also sometimes called The Day of Knowledge. The school year ends either end of May or sometimes in June (if you are in a grade that requires graduation exams, they all happen in June).

The celebration takes place outside in the school courtyard. My very first day of school everyone still had to wear uniforms (brown dress with white apron for girls and blue pants and jacket for boys), later on, just nice celebratory outfits. Girls, especially with long hair, used to wear quite elaborate hairdos with lots of large ribbons made into huge bows.


Our school housed 1st through 11th grade (all in one building). Each grade was divided into several groups (A, B, C, etc.). Each group will have a lead teacher. In the elementary school that is the teacher who teaches most of your classes. In higher grades it can be a teacher of any subject but he/she will be your group’s supervisor. Every group has exactly the same schedule: so you go to all the classes with your group and most of the time you stay with the same group from the first to the 11th grade. There might be exceptions when your group (usually about 30 people) is divided in half for some classes, such as foreign language. Otherwise you are always together.

On September 1st you are lined up with your group, usually the 1 graders are in front. You have your group teacher there with you and you always bring a bouquet of flowers for her/him. Everyone lines up in the school courtyard and there are some speeches given at the front steps of the school by the principle and sometimes some other teachers.

Then the first bell is rung. It is done by a first grader who is sitting on the shoulders of a student from the graduating class (usually a boy). The first grader has a metal bell that she (in my memory – always a girl) rings while being carried around along the front row of all the students lined up around the courtyard.

Usually all the students are coming with their parents. But the first graders can be accompanied by their expended family: grandparents, siblings, etc.

After the celebration is over the kids go to their classes but usually not much is done. General information about the curriculum, introductions of the class and other light activities are all that is done that day. The school lasts only for about a couple of hours, when everyone heads home.

It is a very big celebration and I was always looking forward to the day, the flowers, music, the feeling of comradery and seeing my school friends again after a long summer break. It was a fun day and a great way to start a school year.


Mohammad, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school year in Kuwait starts in mid-September and goes until June.
There is no special first day of school celebration, but there is preparation for that day in every family. First of all we have to buy new uniforms and when we get to school on that day we are excited to meet our friends. We start school at the age of 6 (or if you were born before April that year you can start at 5) and girls and boys go to separate schools, except for the International schools. Like in the US we have elementary (5 years), middle (4 years) and high school (3 years). Each takes place at a separate building that can be located at different places. Most classes will have 30-40 students. Everyone wears uniforms and for boys it is a white shirt and dark silver pants.
Republic of Congo

Marina, Learn French Like a Native 

The school year starts in October and end in mid-June. School starts at the age of 6 and is compulsory until 16 (six years of primary and seven years of secondary school).

There is a tradition in all public schools. All students from K-12 grade clean their classroom on the first day of school. A team of about 5-6 students is put together to clean the classroom throughout the year. The students choose which day of the week works best for them.

I was really ecstatic to go back to school, since we usually had a 3 months break—rightfully called “les Grandes Vacances” French for the Greatest Vacations.

The first day of school or should I say the first week of school was a no brainer. On the first day of school, the students were asked to write on a piece of paper, their name, dad name’s and job, mom name’s and job, their address and finally their age or date of birth. This information varied slightly per the teacher; like in middle school where students have an average of 10 different teachers, in different subject.

Then each teacher dictated or wrote on the blackboard a list of tools, notebook (number of pages) and the book needed for the subject they taught.

Finally, by the beginning of the afternoon, each teacher, started class by revising what was taught in the prior grade—which usually extended to the end of the week

South Korea

Shawn, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school starts in March and ends in November. The long holiday takes place during the winter months. There is no celebration for the first day of school but a lot of great traditions for the end of the year. Normally the parents will bring the children to the elementary school and help them find their classes. The first day is usually awkward as you do not know anyone yet.

Here is a short interview with Shawn:



First day of school starts on first day of fall in Iran, but usually first graders’ first day is one day earlier than other students. The reason for this is that the principal, teachers and other staff spend more time with first graders to welcome them to school, to give them time to adjust to these changes and also explain to them the concept of school. On this day students get lined up based on the class they belong to, in school’s playground and listen to principal’s speech. After the speech, and the greeting celebration they follow their teachers to the class.

In the class, usually the teacher starts with introducing herself and then asks each student to introduce herself. (I have to mention that in Iran, schools are separate from elementary to high school for girl and boys). Usually first day for first graders is not a whole day. Usually is just couple of hours to get to know the school and their teacher.

During the celebration, before and after principal’s speech, there are some entertainment programs, like music about education and school. What I can recall from that day is, exactly the day after my first day of school was holiday. So when school was over, I was so happy that tomorrow would be holiday and I didn’t need to go to school, even though I was so excited to go to school. I remember I was singing “fitile Farda tatile”, which means “Hooray tomorrow is holiday”.

Last day of school in Iran is between the last two weeks of spring.


Marie, Teacher of French and Spanish at a high school in Remo, NV.

School starts early September, ends early July. First day or week of school? Nothing AT ALL. Everything is very low key, “discreet”. We do not like the “obnoxiousness”, loudness. At the same time, we do not have any school sport team. We do not do anything to create a “family” feeling among students and teachers. It does not feel like a community at all, compared to the US. I like the idea of getting up in the morning and going to work with a “community” where people actually care about you. However, I can never get used to the cheering and sport craze of the assembly, the popularity of such and such. I remember being excited to get to see all my friends again, since I did not see a lot of them outside school during summer break.
One memory as a student, starting 1st grade in a new city at a new school. I had jumped a year so I was 1 year younger than any other kid. I was at the end of the line of students before entering the room. 2 boys were in front of me. One of them turned around and called his friend, pointing at me. He said, laughing: “Hey! Look how small she is!”. I was traumatized! I still remember it, 32 years later, as if it were yesterday. I am still the smallest person in the room! I got over it

Diana, Translator, lives in Anger, France

It is true that there is nothing going on the first day of school but the children are happy to see their classmates and catch up.
At the end of the previous school year each teacher gave a list of supplies that are needed for the next school year and parents and kids buy those supplies, backpacks and new clothes for the school year. The books are usually provided by the school but in a lot of cases there are no books, but just pages that the teacher gives to the students to work on.  It is extremely low key. On a normal school day you bring the child to the gate of the school and they go inside by themselves, on the first day of school parents are usually allowed to enter the gate and get the student to their teacher, but that is it.


Thank you,  Anna! I enjoyed reading this post and it brought back a lot of memories from my childhood!

When is the first day of school in hour country and how do you celebrate it?