This September Enzo started in the pre-nursery school classroom. I was very excited when I got the supply list and I saw that Enzo would be having “homework” — until I got the first worksheets and I sat down to do them with him. The worksheet had a big picture of an apple: A is for Apple. Well… hhhmmmm. OK. So I went ahead and did the worksheets the best way I knew how, I just translated the sheets as I went along. “Mira mi amor. Una manzana. Pintemos la manzana.” (Look, it’s an apple, let’s color the apple.)
Talking to another parent, I realized that I won’t be able to do “Spanish only” 100 percent of the time because this is just the beginning. I am going to have to help Enzo with his homework, and that will be in English. Also, reading Ana’s post last week I realized that it is better to acknowledge English and work on his vocabulary and pronunciation as opposed to ignoring it.
So this week, I changed my approach. This week it was B for butterfly. So I said “Mira, es una B de bebe. Y esta es una mariposa, pero en inglés se dice BUTTERFLY.” Thankfully, the teacher seems to have gone over it in school because he knew it was a butterfly. Then I told him it is just like the butterfly we see in “La Oruga Muy Hambrienta.”
I have decided that it’s OK to acknowledge that in school, Enzo is learning in English and mom understands this. I’ll just reinforce that English is spoken in school, but that at home with Mamá we speak en español.
I realize that homework is just the beginning. Enzo will learn English, and it will most likely be his preferred language, as it is mine. My goal as a parent is to instill a love of Spanish (and French) and as he gets older; help him understand WHY it’s important to learn it. I want him to understand that it is important for him to communicate with his family and that he’ll reap the benefits later on.
To fulfill that goal, I think it is very important to continue making Spanish FUN! In an effort to do so, I’ve started making up silly songs and celebrating in Spanish. For example, we are potty training and since at daycare everything is in English, I’ve created a silly song in Spanish to celebrate every time Enzo pees in the potty. My potty song is “Pipi en el baño, pipi en el baño” (sang to the tune of the Conga song).
As we all now, raising bilingual kids is work! I am happy to have this community where I can question, learn and grow while on this journey. I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you used when your child started school and started homework in the majority language. Are there things you wish you had done or hadn’t done?