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Conquest of Galaxies, or a Safe Flight

The summer season had a grand opening at Metaphor Academic Center. The kids started their two-week interplanetary journey. Have fun learning, find great adventures and have a soft landing, young travellers!

Every child wants to become an astronaut at least once in their life. Or nearly every child, that’s no doubt. And no wonder, because everything about space sounds so fascinating — spaceships, the Milky Way, the delicate light of a distant star, mysteries and discoveries, the pleasure of learning. What can be better for children than to imagine they are astronauts going on an interplanetary journey? The journey will be so much fun with friends, but it will be the best with a kind and knowledgeable teacher who will help the kids catch an interplanetary animal and will translate a big-eared Martian’s greeting.

The other day, my four-year-old daughter put a plastic colander that I usually use for washing grapes on her head and said, “Mommy, I’m going to be an astronaut.”

“Any ideas about your rocket ship?” I asked carefully.

“Nope. Still need some time to think it over,” she replied.

“Right,” I agreed. “Would be nice to know what awaits you in the outer space. What if it’s really cold or really hot there? What kind of planets are out there and what kind of galaxies?..

“Galaxies?” my daughter asked. “Who is going to tell me about them?”

And here is where it struck me: quick, sign up for Metaphor summer camp!

Memorable experience for my child and total safety for our house.

Total Dictation (“Totalny Diktant”)

Total Dictation is an international event that takes place every April. It is organized in the US by the Russkiy Mir Center, NY, and Metaphor Academic Center for Russian Language and Culture, VA, with publicity provided by RussianDC.com.

Total Dictation is rightfully called so, and now it’s earning its reputation in several key aspects such as being impressively vast in terms of coverage area as well as unexpectedly ruthless in terms of grammar. It doesn’t only examine your literacy, but also your linguistic vigilance, intuition, and responsiveness. In other words, it’s a challenge for your competence in the Russian language, its exquisite intricacies, and endless capabilities.

Metaphor Academic Center has been hosting Total Dictation for many years now, inviting the brave ones aged 14 to 75. Indeed, the love for the Russian language has no boundaries! The dictation itself is usually preceded by reviewing rarely used grammar rules that might have gotten a bit rusty. The text is dictated twice, first by a local reader, and then online by the author.

No Rules Grammar

How do children learn the language? The speech complexity chain is usually built the classic way: sounds, syllables, words, word collocations, sentences, text. As we build and reinforce such a chain, we need a break from the monotonous routine of traditional textbooks. Away with memorizing dull and boring rules! A child’s speech develops through memorizing already existing phrases and expressions, which gradually teaches them to build their own words and phrases based on the given examples. The main goal in teaching a preschooler is to enrich their speech and to activate their passive vocabulary.

Through playful, rhymed texts, children learn grammatical structures and accumulate linguistic knowledge that they require. Enunciate, compose, rhyme, laugh, and use your imagination! Using the language has to be bright and vivid, loud and fun. The use of phrases and expressions has to become automatic, so that telling and explaining is nice and smooth.

The course content is introduced gradually, starting with listening tasks and finishing with practice and revision exercises. Performing exercises aimed at mastering a specific lexico-grammatical skill, but presented differently every time is an integral part of the process. It is essential to support every step of the process with individual visual material, flash cards and storytelling pictures, lotto games, toys, models, tiles, various schemas and diagrams. This creates an atmosphere that encourages internal and external mobility, ensures full control over mastering new knowledge and skills, as well as allows for efficient use of academic time.

Dictation the New Way: Exciting, Fun, Effective

It might be challenging to teach Russian in a balanced way to a child isolated from the Russian-speaking world, but it’s certainly not impossible. It requires a combination of efforts from tireless parents, innovative teachers, and responsive students. Metaphor’s teachers are in constant search of new teaching techniques, trying to brighten up and infuse with emotion every language structure perceived by a bilingual child. More and more often, modern methods of teaching Russian raise the issue of gradually merging spelling exercises with speech development activities. Creative dictation is the kind of activity where the student’s spelling skills and competences become important for communication and determined by it. Read more>>

Child’s Development: Transitional Period or Permanent Growth Problem?

Metaphor Academic Center is actively preparing for the new school year. As the imminent school year is approaching, caring moms’ and dads’ hearts fill up with worry. They worry not so much about their one-of-a-kind child’s intellectual development level, but rather about them being independent and organised enough, responsive and open to new knowledge, as well as flexible enough to adapt to a new environment. All these factors will inevitably affect the amount of time needed for homework, the amount of parents’ involvement into it, and the level of tension at home!

Parents’ task is as far from being simple as it can get. They need to learn their child’s personal and behavioral traits and patterns, and elaborate a common approach to them. Treat all the distinctive features of your child’s perception and response as part of the normal course of events and remember that all children, even the most ordinary ones, go through these natural developmental stages.

Safe travels to you, dear parents! You’re not alone on this path. You’re surrounded by the responsiveness and professionalism of our caring teachers. Your confidence is reinforced by understanding the law of reciprocating motion and believing that all growth difficulties will be eventually replaced by peaceful, productive independence that your children were brave enough to win and deserve beyond all doubt.

Case Expiration Date, or Case Endings in Bilingual Life

Case endings are hard to memorize, tricky to use and often used unexpectedly in a bilingual’s speech! How do we get our undoubtedly gifted and hard-working children to enter this amazing, multifaceted world of case endings, inflections and verb forms easily and light-heartedly? What’s the first step and what’s to follow?

When developing academic programs, Metaphor Academic Center always takes into account numerous psychological researches that prove fundamental differences in the ways adults and children receive and process information. Children perceive information instantly but, unfortunately, they forget it easily without constant reiteration of covered material. Adults need more time and effort to gain knowledge, but they tend to keep it longer and usually don’t require revision.

People learn languages in natural communication. Constant practice allows a monolingual child to easily master all the case endings, grammar structures, and vocabulary. Language intuition is much harder to build in a bilingual environment with a lack of speaking opportunities. Stimulating active speaking and creating additional opportunities for language immersion are the crucial sources for language growth and development. Don’t miss out on this most favorable time for language acquisition in your children’s life! Do your very best to develop linguistic feelings and impressions in your bilingual children while they are still little!

Let’s Make Some Noize Productively

Metaphor holds amazing music lessons for preschool and school age children. Our music teacher is Galina Tarasova, who graduated from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music and authored unique methodologies for working with preschool children. Every class taught by Galina is not just comprehensive work on singing, rhythm and musical hearing development, but rather a unique chance for creative music collaboration. Children’s orchestra is a search, a discovery, and a pleasure from creating a rhythmic pattern and a melody together. Playing in a jug band allows a child to discover sounds in all their amplitude and infinity.

The structure of these lessons ensures gradual musical skills development and facilitates children’s further immersion in the magic world of music. At first, children learn to mark the downbeat by clapping their hands, then they move on to such simple instruments as wooden spoons, maracas, tambourines, and sticks. In a little while, children start “hearing” the upbeat notes, and that’s where more intricate rhythmic patterns are introduced into their performance. During their lessons and performances, our young musicians provide accompaniment for vivid folk melodies and often even recreate simple jazz pieces.

It’s no news that a child’s musical development has to start in early childhood, because this is when their musical talent starts forming. Playing in a jug band is extremely important for children, since apart from developing the sense of rhythm and melody, teaching to coordinate between hearing, voice and movement, as well as to focus and perform on a stage — apart from this all, it fosters love for music. And according to a great philosopher, “Without music life would be a mistake”.

Play Dolls to Raise Your Child Bilingual!

As parents, we often rack our brains over raising a bilingual. Using Russian with our child only in everyday life is not enough to turn them into a well-balanced bilingual. How do you teach your child proper Russian in an English-speaking environment? How do you get them to speak and to be carried away with something interesting? I’d like to add one more recipe to all those you probably already know.

It’s a well-known fact that children, and oftentimes even adults, learn through playing. Playing is what helps them master social roles, display creativity and, as a result, develop their language skills. Puppet theater is not just a good way to entertain your child, but also to draw them into a conversation!

Learning From Nature

Nature study for preschoolers. Sounds mundane and predictable, like breakfast oats or a bedtime story. However, as soon as the first or second lesson is over, parents realize that their child was lucky to acquire a totally unique, hands-on experience of interacting with nature. What child never aspired to be a pioneer, to set course for the distant and unexplored that always awaits right around the corner?

Metaphor Academic Center students travel all the time and with growing enthusiasm. A unique syllabus created by one of our teachers targets older preschoolers. As soon as the syllabus was adopted by Metaphor, it became a huge success among our students. Children looks forward to these lessons where they don’t have to stay inside the four walls of a classroom, but instead are surrounded by trees, soft moss and rustling leaves under their feet, their teacher being their guide who can share so much about the wildlife!

The inexplicable nature becomes more and more familiar, close and predictable. You can grind up some medicinal juniper and smell its scent, find some edible nuts in the grass and crack them open with a regular rock, build a tent with your own hands, learn how to do the right roofing and flooring in it, and how to stay warm. Children learn how to behave and respond appropriately, whether there is a bee flying around, it suddenly started raining, or became too cold or extremely hot… Enacting these scenarios in a safe and peaceful atmosphere helps a child develop an adequate attitude to them and learn how to make decisions while staying careful and safe.

When the Muse Pays Your Child a Visit…

Metaphor Academic Center is getting ready for the new school year, making new, amazing plans, developing exciting projects driven by imagination, creative energy and inspiration.

Curiosity and thirst for knowledge should be encouraged in children starting at the earliest age possible. Creative effort should be noticed and stimulated as soon as a child learns to hold objects in their hands. Metaphor Academic Center carefully considers and creates activities based on multiple factors such as age, individual pace of academic and personal development, aptitudes, and personal preferences.

Metaphor’s curriculum is filled with activities that are aimed at your children conducting research and mastering all kinds of independent activity skills. Creative work, in any shape or form, allows your child to develop memory, attention span, cognitive skills, intellect, as well as sense of agency and self-esteem, all while playing and having fun. A harmoniously developed child will never feel bored, and the Muse will become their loyal companion for a long time.