I was the only student left doing French by the end of our high school class.
I had had an attraction to languages since very young. As a 9 year-old, I thought it was soooo cool when I saw a little Hungarian 3 year-old girl swapping from French to English & back again with her Dad (it was clearly a pleading technique she had devised in an attempt to get more favourable results to her requests - not silly). I decided that I should definitely be that cool, so at random moments I would exchange rambling, unintelligible words with my sister in the hope that passers by would think that we could speak more than one language & find it amazing! It was such fun! (Did anyone else do this, or was it just me?)
Little kids, big learning & making an impact
As a young adult, I realised that I had a leaning towards inspiring children, & so I moved into the domain of nannying for a period of five years, both here in Australia, and then in London.
I discovered that I was incredibly drawn to early childhood education, delving into any book I could find about the subject, as well as books about psychology and philosophy. To me, these three subjects were all related. I had a powerful sense of the fact that I would be influencing these young children one way or another, & I was determined to make my impact positive.
Serendipity & other life-changing circumstances
Then, as serendipity would have it, I met a gorgeous & very charming French-Swiss man, who quickly became my husband & intrepid supporter. As he spoke very little English, & I was sooo0 nervous speaking French to a REAL Frenchman, we are proof that language is definitely no barrier to love.
So how does this bring me to You?
(Hang on in there . . . it'll all become clear)
Well, back in Australia, & having spent several delightful years raising our two sons full-time, I was unexpectedly sent a newspaper clipping (remember newspapers?) from a Mum I used to babysit for. It was asking for a bilingual Mum (any language) to run language sessions for toddlers and preschoolers at a local council hall on the beautiful Northern Beaches of Sydney.
"I can do that!" I said to myself.
And I did. I got the part, came up with a required business name on the spot - French Fun - & off I went, full of enthusiasm (& nerves, I must say).
But as I quickly realised, I needed more than just a passion for inspiring kids & the ability to speak another language; being able to merge the two together & create language magic is another thing entirely!
"Hmmm, so this actually requires some sort of framework," I cleverly deducted.
I knew it had to be fun, or the kids would quickly lose interest. I knew I was good at fun!
And so I proceeded to figure it all out through much trial and error. I found my style, my groove, & my confidence grew.
It turns out that I had a knack of combining genuine affection, creativity, humour & results. The group grew quickly, impressing all the Mums who were there with their little ones.
"There's a warmth in her sessions that you just don't find every day, the kids felt it and we felt it too. It's a testament to the sense of community Judith creates that half an hour each week turned into so much more - Cocorico was the best priced activity we signed up for, and by far the richest. " (Charlie Robbins)
Each week I would return home from my sessions full of ideas! I would learn from the kids' reactions, race home and draw and cut and create more and more cool games (this was way before I had even the tiniest inkling that computers & the internet were an actual, useful, creative thing - all my games were hand-made).
The games were a hit (& if they weren't, I tweaked or ditched them.)
Along the way I discovered that the real magic was in the presentation; it was hidden in the techniques - the little tricks & tweaks that charmed French words out of the kids, & had them laughing & curious & asking for more.
"The first words out of my son's mouth this morning were, "Is it French today?" He just loves coming to French!" (Suzie, Noah's Mum)
Word of mouth had me receiving phone calls from more & more directors of childcare centres and preschools, requesting that I run weekly French sessions for the kids in their centres.
Now 15 years and thousands of preschoolers later (as of 2017), here I am, so excited to be able to show YOU how to create language magic of YOUR OWN. (See, I told you I'd get to you!)
The next big step
With more opportunities & no more available timeslots, in 2015 I took my next big step & decided to create a team of dynamic Cocorico Language Leaders, & to show them EVERYTHING I had learnt and developed over the years. Once again I jumped right in . . . beautiful ideas, plenty of passion & enthusiasm, but blissfully unaware of how many techniques I had developed & used on a daily basis since the early days.
When I actually had to break down all my methods, which had often developed spontaneously over the years & had become an unthinking part of me, I realised how very many "tricks of the trade" there really were! Things like, "If you say it this way, the kids will react like this. If you say it that way, they will react like that." It was really cool for me to re-discover why I did things the way I did, & learning to explain those details to give my team the edge was such fun!
So now I have a wonderful team of passionate Cocorico Language Leaders running their own French sessions in childcare centres; putting their own magnificent personalities into our distinctive Cocorico style, & creating language magic for new groups of preschoolers.
And it turns out that I LOVE working with my team, helping them to:
* make the most of their individual qualities
* support & develop their confidence in bringing their language to the kids
And showing them how to:
* engage the kids with charm & humour
* get the kids speaking & loving French!
And my team LOVE to learn it!
"Thanks for a super duper training session today, Judith. Indeed you are a great visionary in your teaching
approach." (Florence Gueit - Cocorico Language Leader)
The next . . . next big step
Over the years, I have had many bilingual staff members coming to me asking if they could watch my French sessions and take notes, because they would love to do the same thing with the daycare kids in their own language but didn't know where to start, outside of hello, goodbye & the occasional song.
I recently had a lovely German childcare student come to me and say that she was going to do a half-hour presentation on Germany to the preschoolers, & she was really keen on knowing how to make it interesting for them so as not to lose their attention. She had some ideas about WHAT she wanted to present, but she needed to know HOW to do it.
And so I finally took my cue, & now I have another exciting branch of Cocorico, showing BILINGUAL EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS how to create language magic in their own classrooms.
Are you ready to add an exciting new dimension to your childcare days?
START BY DIVING INTO ONE OF THESE GUIDES - THEY'RE FREE!
A Spot of Randomness . . .
WORDS I LIKE:
* Charm * elegance * grace * serendipity * potential * bisou (pronounced bizooh, it means kiss in French) * Japacadamia (a country my son invented many years ago) * chocolate (in French or English, it just sounds soooo good!)
ONE ANNOYING TRAIT:
I've been known to poke my 19 year-old son in the eye while he was practising his driving (in a real car, with me as the supervising driver, on a real road); to knock everything over on the pantry shelf in enthusiasm to get a jar of jam (admittedly I was about 10 years old at the time, but the memory of my Mum saying, "Judy, Judy, Judy . . . SLOW DOWN" has never left me); and to elbow my husband in the head while rolling over in bed . . . more than once (never EVER well-received)!
Not at all elegant. Or charming. Or graceful.
But, eh . . . you can't win 'em all, right?!
But if I can get some WINS for you by showing you the skills, techniques, & secrets to creating language magic with your class of toddlers or preschoolers, combining your native or second language with your passion for creating a positive impact in children's lives, then I will be over the moon!
Why not start with some baby steps, which I will be delighted to provide for you in my weekly CLUB Cocorico emails- they're free!