Bilingual is Better

The Vital Role of Nannies When Raising Bilingual Kids

Even before I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to stay home with my newborn children as long as (financially) possible. I was blessed to be able to do that for more than two years with Vanessa and about a year with Santiago. When it was time for me to go back to work, my husband and I agreed that we would hire a nanny to take care of our kids at home. But not just any nanny. We wanted a niñera whose native language was español.

As many of you know, my kids are being raised bilingual via the mL@H method. So Spanish is the only language spoken in our home. The only way for us to ensure that our kids would continue to be immersed in Spanish, even while they weren’t with us, was to hire a (native) Spanish-speaking nanny.

We completely lucked out with both of the nannies who worked with us the last few years. They were kind, fun, loving and excellent with our children… and best of all? They were from Mexico and Spanish was their first language! They read, sang and played with our kids in Spanish, and I’m 100% aware — and grateful — of the vital role they played in helping us raise our children bilingual.

But ever since our last nanny left a few months ago to go back home to her family in another state, we’ve had an incredibly hard time finding a replacement. Things were okay while my husband worked the night-shift, since he was home with Santiago when he wasn’t in preschool, but he went back to a day shift at the beginning of the year and the search for a nanny ensued.

After a couple of failed attempts — and after crunching numbers — my husband and I have come to the realization that despite the huge benefits of having a nanny, this is no longer a feasible option for us. So we’ve decided to send our 3 1/2-year-old son Santiago to preschool every single day of the week and to aftercare at least two days of the week. And now, I’m really worried about his bilingualism.

Read: 5 Ways to Boost the Minority Language at Home

Why? Well because for the first time in his short life, Santiago will spend A LOT of time immersed in English. I’m really concerned about what this will do to his Spanish.

As it is, Santiago is exposed to a lot more English than Vanessa was at his age thanks to none other than her. They still play mostly in Spanish, but there are a lot of phrases being thrown around in English and Santiago, being the little sponge that he is, wastes no time repeating each one of them like a parrot.

I truly hope I’m not doing a disservice to my son. I feel like he’s already gotten the short end of the stick in so many other areas of his upbringing only because he’s our second child. I pray I don’t end up regretting this.

{Photo by fortinbras}

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