As a Spanish teacher, I’ve always known that I wanted to teach my kids Spanish, and hopefully raise them to be bilingual. I think it is such a wonderful gift that we, as bilingual parents, can give to our children. Nearly every program in college these days has a language requirement, and finishing those 2-4 years of foreign language can be brutal for some people. So, why not teach your kids when they are little—when it’s easier for them to learn, and when they actually want to learn it? Believe me, they will thank us later!
Maybe you are a parent who speaks only one language. My husband falls into this category. But that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t learn, too! There are so many sources out there to get your kids excited about learning a second language, and many of them are right at your fingertips (AKA on your phone or laptop!). Most of us are familiar with Dora the Explorer and Diego, and those are great as well, but here are a few more fun things to do with your kids in Spanish:
- Websites: Go to www.123teachme.com or www.kiddiesgames.com for some fun, interactive Spanish games for your pre-school age kids. There are lots of other websites with language-learning games, but these are some of the easiest to navigate. And the best part? They are FREE!
- Books: Our local library in Davenport (especially the downtown location) has a GREAT selection of kids books in Spanish. It’s located just next to the Children’s Section (where all the fun toys are!), and they have a wide variety of reading levels and topics to choose from. They also carry a limited number of books in other languages, as well. Pick a few, take them home, and get your child’s language brain fired up! If they are old enough to read, let them give it a shot. If they aren’t, don’t be afraid—just do your best with the pronunciation, anything is better than not trying at all! Visit www.davenportlibrary.com for more information on locations, hours, etc.
**Also, if you aren’t a frequent library-visitor, you should look into the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. It is a free program that sends books right to your doorstep for your little ones! You can find a sign-up sheet at www.imaginationlibrary.com, and there is an option to choose Spanish language books. We get these books in the mail for our boys (we get them in English, because I already have a lot of books for them in Spanish), and they are always great! Plus, yet again, it’s FREE!
- Spanish classes: This option may be a little trickier, depending on where you live and also on how busy your schedule already is! I know that a lot of pre-schools and Kindergarten classes are starting to include some Spanish into their curriculum, but if you are interested in taking it one step further (or if your kids don’t go to preschool), check into your local education programs and see if you can find something! I know that a lot of my friends had trouble finding a kids’ Spanish class in this area, so I actually ended up teaching one myself last summer at my house! However, it wouldn’t hurt for you to call your local Continuing Education programs and make suggestions….you never know what might come of it!
I’m sure that you fellow mamas are much more technologically-advanced than I am, so you probably know of some good apps for this kind of thing that we could put on our phones (we all know that the kids LOVE to take our phones and play on them!). If you know of anything good, please share!
I am obviously partial to Spanish because it is one of the languages that I speak, and it is also my profession, but don’t be afraid to look for other languages for your kiddos to learn, as well—perhaps teach them a little bit about your family’s heritage and background? Talking to them about their ancestors may get them more excited about learning the language.
And if you are thinking that your life is just too busy to commit to teaching your kids a second language, consider perhaps just focusing on the cultural side of things. For example, do your kids know that kids their age in Asia eat with chopsticks? Or that many kids around the world live without ipods, laptops, and even without an indoor bathroom? These are some other things we should spend time telling our children, making them aware of the big, colorful world around them. Rachel, a friend of mine who has three little girls, has started a great program with her little ones: Take A Trip Activities. They choose a country, and learn as much as they can about it. Her oldest draws flags, writes down fun facts, and then Rachel helps them make the native foods from the country for them to try. They have also tried dressing in the clothes popular to each place. I think this is SUCH a great idea, and such a fun way to expand your children’s knowledge about the world!
(Follow Rachel’s blog at www.aralacarpenterdaily.wordpress.com to see the countries that they have learned about so far, and also just to hear from another great, hard-working mom’s blog!)
What have you done, or would you like to do, with your little ones to expand their cultural knowledge? Please share your ideas! And above all, HAVE FUN!