Are you homeschooling Spanish for multiple children? It can be a real challenge to meet the needs of all of your children at their different stages of learning. The trick is to find the balance between group activities and individual attention. In addition, you can create an immersive environment where children can be learning passively while you do other activities. Here is the approach that has worked for us in homeschooling Spanish for multiple children.
Leanna is a homeschooling mom with three sweet, funny, rambunctious children. She and her husband, who is from Costa Rica, are raising their children to be bilingual and bicultural but more importantly to be “world citizens.” You can find her online at her blog All Done Monkey, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Pinteres
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Homeschooling Spanish for Multiple Children
My children are ages 2, 5, and 8, so it is a continual challenge to meet all of their needs. As much as I would like to do individually tailored activities for each child in every single subject, this is simply not realistic; plus, I’ve found that there are definite benefits to doing group activities, despite their different levels. This is particularly true for a subject like Spanish, where you need to practice your language skills with others. After some trial and error, here is the approach that we have found to work for us in homeschooling Spanish for multiple children.
Create an Immersive Environment
This is just a fancy way to say that I try to expose my children to as much Spanish as possible throughout the day. We listen to music in Spanish, tune into Spanish language media, and at times use Spanish language apps. Often this is just passive learning, but sometimes we will do accompanying activities as we listen to the music, or I’ll give them an assignment to watch for particular words or phrases.
If possible, we also try to have play dates with friends who speak Spanish, or attend cultural events, or visit with relatives in Costa Rica (either in person or via Skype).
My challenge to myself has been to speak Spanish to them throughout the school day (even if they answer in English), something I am constantly forgetting! At a suggestion from my friend Rita at Multilingual Parenting, I’ve given the kids the task of making sure I’m speaking Spanish. If they catch me speaking English, they get a treat – needless to say, they love it! And even though I don’t require them to speak to me in English, the more I speak Spanish the more I notice that they begin to use words or phrases in Spanish.
Do Group Activities
I love our circle time in the morning. It is (for the most part) a relaxing time where we can do some fun learning activities together. I make sure to center our circle time around Spanish. This is when we review the calendar and talk about the weather, a discussion which can take place at slightly different levels for each child. My two year old just likes to help move the arrows on our weather display, while the boys of course participate at higher levels. For example, my five year old often says the days of the week with my help, while my older son likes to recite them on his own. Because we do these activities every morning, it is just an expected part of what we do.
Circle time is also when we do songs and Spanish finger plays. Tying together music and movement is such a wonderful way for children to learn language for so many reasons, besides just being fun! The lyrics are challenging enough to keep my older son interested, while the element of play hooks my younger ones.
I always make sure to include active games, like charades or acting out a story we have just read. Speaking of which, stories can often be fun to do together, although sometimes I also save these to do one on one with each child.
Make Time for Individual Attention
Although group activities are fun to do together, I always make sure to reserve time to give each child individual attention so I can really target their learning level. For my two year old, this can mean doing simple finger plays or looking through Spanish board books together, whereas my five year old loves to play games together.
I have workbooks for both of my older children, which they work out of once or twice a week. I also periodically ask them to write letters or cards to send to our relatives in Costa Rica. Typically they will draw a picture and dictate to me something to write to go along with it, which I’ll translate for them into Spanish and have them read back to me.
For my eight year old, I’m trying to incorporate more reading and writing in Spanish. Many picture books and some easy readers he can read on his own, and I often ask him to read them out loud to me or a younger sibling.
He is also beginning to do copy work and memorization in Spanish, just like he does for his English schoolwork. This can be done with simple poems in Spanish that he has to practice writing and memorizing.
Obviously some parts of this will evolve as my children grow, but I anticipate that we will always incorporate the three areas of an immersive environment, group activities, and individual attention. What is your approach to homeschooling Spanish for multiple children? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!