Photo credit: ThomasLife

For months I’ve been trying to figure out how I would go about teaching my daughter, Vanessa, how to read in Spanish. I know she’s been ready to learn for at least six months, but I guess I’ve been the one who wasn’t ready.

My original thought was that I’d teach her how to read in Spanish before she entered Kindergarten in the Fall. Once there, she’d just follow along with the rest of the kids in her class and “learn” how to read in English. I use quotation marks because the truth is you only learn to read once, regardless of the language.

I read and researched about the best way to teach her to read in Spanish, I bought workbooks online and when I went to Perú in February, and Ana even got me some more materials when she attended LéaLA Fería del Libro at the end of April. I was stressed out.

Vanessa’s preschool teachers told me she was ready, she recognizes almost every letter in the alphabet in both English and Spanish. She’s always asking me what it says here or what it says there. She copies words she sees around the house on white pieces of paper with her markers and crayons. She tries to spell out words using the magnetic letters on the fridge.

Recently, a good friend of mine suggested an idea she had used to teach her daughter how to read. She said to label as many items as possible around the house (she did it in both languages) so the words would become familiar to my daughter. I thought the idea was genius. And, yet, I’ve done absolutely nothing to implement this or the many other ideas I’ve been given.

Part of it is that I don’t feel capable enough (read: don’t have enough patience) to teach my daughter how to read. The other part is that I’ve been debating the benefits of Vanessa entering Kindergarten already knowing how to read.

When we went to her Kindergarten orientation earlier this week, the principal told us they’d start slow and would hopefully be reading by the end of their first year in elementary school. I think it was then when it hit me: there’s no need to rush this one. I’ve decided it’ll be better if she learns how to read alongside her classmates. Even if it is in English.

My new plan is to transfer the reading skills she’ll learn in school into Spanish and finally put to good use all the materials I’ve been accumulating the past few months. I think it’s going to work out great. I’m stressed out no more!

What is your experience? Have you taught your bilingual children to read in either language? Any tips?

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