When your kids aren't so little anymore, there's a whole knew set of questions on your mind for how to make your bilingual homeschool work for your family.
Join Julissa and I as we talk about the realities of homeschooling elementary aged kids in a bilingual homeschool. This content was originally recorded LIVE on instagram, and you can watch the full video here. However, for ease of reading, the following post contains an edited overview of the main points hit on during our chat.
Julissa is a bilingual mama to three kids aged 11, 8, and 6. Her family moved from Michegan to Mexico, and along with that move came their family's jump into bilingual homeschooling!
Here's the overview of our chat:
1) How do you get started with a bilingual homeschool when you are pulling your child out of a public school, or a dual language program?
Lauren: A few people asked this questions, and the one thing that was not clear in the asking is whether or not the parents speak Spanish themselves. If you are pulling your child from a dual language program and you do NOT speak the minority language, you will need some serious support to maintain and grow your child's language.
Think in terms of hiring an online tutor for two or three days a week that can work through a specific curriculum with your child. It could be done, but you would need to be very intentional.
Julissa: We did pull our children out of public school when we began homeschooling, and the most important thing I can say is to focus on the relationship first. When your kids are coming from public school you have an expectation of what they should know, and you can get frustrated when you realize they don't know something. Watch your tone of voice, and the way you correct them. Instead of controlling your children, work to get to know them and how they learn so you can work WITH them.
Secondly, I would say try to find some curricula in Spanish. Even as a native speaker, my academic language is English and it's awkward sometimes to teach in Spanish. I also rely heavily on Spanish and bilingual books, but having a curriculum in Spanish is SO helpful.
Lauren: I totally agree that having a good curriculum in Spanish is ideal and makes a huge difference! However, I tend to favor a strong curriculum in English over a decent curriculum in Spanish. If a curriculum is weak then I have to spend my time filling in the gaps, but if a curriculum is strong I have to spend my time learning the Spanish so I can teach it in Spanish.
At least for me, I'd rather spend my time learning Spanish than filling curriculum gaps. But yes, either way it takes extra time.
(Want to see what curricula we use? They are listed below.)
2) What do your daily schedules look like? How do you balance two languages?
Julissa: We start the school day with Morning Time in Spanish. Usually during breakfast, I'm reading to them books in Spanish, and then I work with my youngest with Spanish phonics. Until around noon our work is done in Spanish, and then in the afternoon we do our English subjects.
And for sure the more consistent I am with speaking Spanish during this time, the more consistent they are to respond in Spanish.
Lauren: I've had that same experience as well. I mean, I started out trying to do everything in both languages which, as I've said before, was awful. But I learned from that experience that you don't have to do everything in both languages.
Read more: The Time I Failed Bilingual Kindergarten.
So now we do the same thing. We start our day with Spanish Morning Time followed by our Spanish subjects. Then we take a break and come back for our English subjects later. This coming year, I am going to try having a Spanish day, then and English day and rotating that way.
Another amazing thing I have been reading about, and I'm super excited to try next year is called translanguaging, I believe. I've also heard it called bridging. It's when you intentionally set aside time with your kids to write out a column of vocabulary in one language for whatever story or subject you're studying, and you write the corresponding vocabulary in the second language as well. This helps you see similarities and differences, and basically helps "bridge" the language gaps. We'll see how it works!
3) Spanish Curricula Show and Tell
From here, we moved into a time of showing you all what curricula we use in Spanish in our homeschool. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a start!
Learning Without Tears - Great affordable handwriting workbooks in Spanish. Also available in French and Hebrew. There are packs and teacher's manuals, but the workbooks are pretty self explanatory and can be used on their own.
Libros Águilas - Both Julissa and I are going to use this next year. It's a faith-based (Christian) full language arts curriculum out of Mexico. I linked to the first grade workbook. They offer other subjects as well, and they can ship to the US.
Cuadernos Para Leer y Escribir - These are gentle, fun, colorful workbooks that are available for FREE. I had them printed in full color and bound on high quality paper through The Homeschool Printing Company for $12 each.
Lelu STEAM + Spanish - This subscription box is amazing! It comes with everything you need to implement an amazing Spanish immersion science experience at home. Experiments, art projects, links to videos, a board game or card game in each box! We have used Lelu for 6 months and LOVE it. could be used as an elementary science core curriculum, or as a supplement. ***Use code BILINGUALTOGETHER10 for $10 off your first box.***
Math Mammoth - This is a complete 1st-7th grade math curriculum that has been translated into Spanish. It is available as a printable PDF at a super affordable price.
Spanish Morning Time Plans - I created these 10-week seasonal Morning Time Plans to help families looking to use more Spanish in their homeschool.
Mexican National Curriculum - These are available for free download. Some Mexican embassies have the 1st-6th hard copy books available to give to homechooling families, and others do not.
And that was the end of our conversation! If you take nothing else from it...remember:
You don't have to do everything in both languages! Find the balance that works for you and your kiddos!