Edinburgh is one of the great mixing pots. The UK attracts people from all around the world and Edinburgh is no exception. As an ex-pat (or partly ex-pat) family separated from the culture that provides their own background, it can be intimidating and concerning to feel, not only that you are losing your own cultural identity, but also that your children may grow up never understanding the cultural elements that help define at least one of their parents.
The Children’s Club exists to address this problem. By providing a safe, warm and welcoming environment for 0 to 3 year-olds (and their parents) to come and meet other adults and children in similar situations, the world can feel that little bit less intimidating.
It is here, at St. Stephen’s Comely Bank Church on every third Saturday, that children can learn that the Czech or Slovak language is not necessarily something that exists only in their homes, isolated from the outside world. While a child living in Edinburgh will inevitably be exposed to English in much of their life, by attending this club they will begin to realise that there are other children, and their parents in turn, who speak Czech or Slovak as either a first or second language. This discovery may well be the most important catalyst a child has in their learning of the language of their family.
In addition to addressing a child’s need to interact with their peers with art sessions, toys, board games and playdough, the club makes a special effort to ensure that activities remain culturally relevant wherever possible. Heavy focus on traditional Czech and Slovak games, songs and rhymes, as well as the timely observation of seasonal festivities, allow children (and parents) to soak up an atmosphere of these countries’ respective cultures. There are few things more pleasing for parents than to children participating in festivities that had once formed part of their own childhood.
There is a small charge of £2 per family per visit, payable upon entry.