One of the biggest questions I get asked is How exactly do you homeschool in two languages?
I figured the best way to answer the question is just to tell you what we’re doing this year. Keep in mind, this is only one way. It seems there are as many ways to make it happen as there are families out there.
Also of note, we have an all-day enrichment program on Tuesdays, and my Big and Middle Lady take one class out of the house on Thursday. I’ll get to our Thursday schedule later in the post.
But for Monday, Wednesday and Friday our day flows as follows.
Morning Time in Spanish
Time: About 1 hour
We begin each day with Morning Time. If you’re not familiar with Morning Time, check out this post from Pam Barnhill. Basically, we start our days together, reading literature, singing, memorizing beautiful language, writing, and playfully drilling Spanish vocabulary.
For us, this time is completely in Spanish. It is a way for me to start the day strong connecting as a family and using our minority language. Here’s what we use for Morning Time:
Morning Time Resources
Prayer & Scripture - We’re reading from the Proverbs each morning this year. We use this NVI/NIV Bilingual Bible.
Songs for Saplings. These catechism songs are available in 10 languages! We learn them in both Spanish and English. Mastering one song before moving to another.
Morning Time Plan. For the bulk of our morning time we use our 10-week seasonal morning time plans. They include weekly poetry memorization selections, excellent book recommendations, nature and craft activities, and 100 seasonal vocabulary word flashcards. Currently we’re using Cesta Mañanera OTOÑO, our fall themed plan. If you're curious to see it you can download a free trial here.
Handwriting Without Tears. This is a great program, and their materials are available in Spanish. They offer both print and cursive books. We end Morning Time with 5 focused minutes of handwriting while the Littlest colors in a coloring book.
Math in Spanish
Time: 20 mins each child
From Morning Time we roll right into math. Math is a subject we do entirely in our minority language. First I tried a curriculum in Spanish, but it wasn't a good curriculum.
I didn't want to sacrifice quality of education just to be able to do something in our minority language. So I found a work around.
My trick to making this work as a non-native Spanish speaker is to choose a scripted curriculum. In other words, a curriculum that writes out exactly what I’m supposed to say during each lesson.
That makes it easy for me to see exactly what vocab I'll need. If I don't know certain words, I look them up and jot it down right there in the manual so when we get to that lesson I can roll smoothly along.
Shiller Math. This is an open-and-go, scripted Montessori based math curriculum. This is our first year using this curriculum, and we all really enjoy the hands-on nature and bite-sized lessons.
Saxon Math also makes a scripted math curriculum for homeschoolers that is solid and many families love. We used it for Kindergarten, it just wasn’t a good fit for us.
English Language Loop
Time: 40 mins
At this point in our morning the school language switches to English. If you are not familiar with Loop Scheduling, check out this post from Read Aloud Revival. But basically, I spend 40 minutes each day working on phonics, spelling and grammar.
My Oldest is in 2nd grade, and I spend 15 focused minutes with him looping phonics and spelling. What that means is that we work through two lessons from All About Reading, regardless of how many 15-minute segments it takes us to get through.
Then we do one lesson from All About Spelling, then two lessons of All About Reading, then one lesson of Spelling. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. While we are working, the Middle Lady reads to the Little Man (or they play). Then we switch.
The Middle Lady is in Kindergarten, and so we are only doing 15 minutes of All About Reading. I’ll add All About Spelling once her reading becomes more fluent. While we’re working, the Biggest reads one book to the Little Man, sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish. Then they play.
The last 10 minutes of our English Language Loop is spent working through First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer. These lessons are extremely bite-sized, and so even though we don’t spend much time on them, we can actually move forward each day. Most of the time. 🙂
English Language Resources
All About Reading. We've used this since day one and LOVE it. It's an open-and-go, sequential, and complete phonics program that uses the Orton-Gillingham approach.
All About Spelling. This is the only spelling program we've used, and we love it. It uses the same Orton-Gillingham approach. I feel like the combo of these two programs are giving my kids an incredibly solid base in phonics and spelling.
First Language Lessons. This is a classically based complete grammar program written by Susan Wise Bauer of The Well Trained Mind. It includes copywork, narration, picture study, and it's entirely scripted.
I'm sensing a theme in my curriculum choices. Scripted curricula must be my love language...
At this point in the morning, we are ready for a 30 minute snack & play break! We move from snack into read aloud time.
Read-Aloud - History, English Lit, Science
Time: 45 mins - 1 hour
This is one of my favorite times of the day as the kids grab something from our read-aloud basket (think coloring books, wiki-stix, or other hand-busying projects) and we find a comfy spot - often heading outside.
I read to them for as long as we can make it. Most days we’re talking around 45 minutes. We cover our history, English literature, and science reading here (Spanish Lit is covered during Morning Time).
We use the Tapestry of Grace booklist for history and literature, and I always read these subjects in English.
History has proved to be a subject that is too difficult for me to manage in my minority language. I’m sure a native speaker could do it, but I came to terms with my limits, and we study history solely in English.
We use the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum for science, and there are excellent book suggestions for each weekly theme. I always look to see what books are available in Spanish for the weekly science theme, so we read both English and Spanish books for science.
Read Aloud Resources
Tapestry of Grace. This is a fabulous K-12 complete curriculum based on the classical education model. It is priced as such. I love this curriculum, and we follow their syllubus and book recommendations for history and literature. However, I do believe any good book list will serve you well for these subjects.
Exploring Nature With Children. This is an absolutely gorgeous curriculum that guides you through a year of nature study. Each week has a different theme with a fabulous book list (as well as art, poetry, nature journaling prompts, and activity suggestions). It is based on Charlotte Mason principles.
Your Local Library. I would be remiss if I did not mention the library as a read aloud resource. I spend some time online each week requesting holds for books about 4-6 weeks in advance of when I want them. Then on our weekly library visit, I pick up whatever books have come in and save them for the proper week. If you are having trouble finding certain titles, ask your librarian about interlibrary loan. This is especially helpful when searching for minority language titles.
Lunch & Quiet Time
Time: 90 minutes
By now it’s about noon. After Read-Aloud we do a quick pick up, then gather around the table and eat. After lunch, everyone finds a quiet spot for an hour. This is my time to work ahead in my math manual and write in Spanish vocab, get online and requests holds from the library, read for fun, answer emails, or stare at the ceiling. 🙂
Time: After quiet time until dinner.
After Quiet Time, our pension for formal schooling goes way down hill.
I use the afternoons for nature walks and journaling (again, following the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum), involving the kids in dinner prep (home economics), heading to a museum or park, or declaring free-time until dinner.
That's our basic Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule! We've been at it for a month and it's been working really well.
Now we get to Thursdays.
Thursdays are odd days as the Biggest and Middle Lady have one class at co-op that starts at 10am. So we start our morning as usual with our Spanish Morning Time routine (detailed above at the tippy top of this post).
Then we head to co-op and stay for lunch with our friends. When we get home from coop, I gather the kids for intentional Spanish instruction.
Spanish Language Instruction
Time: 45 minutes, once a week
Just like with our English phonics lessons, I spend 15 focused minutes with each of my two Bigs learning and practicing Spanish phonics.
Then I have my Biggest read a Spanish book to all of us. The Middle Lady is not at that level yet in either language.
If attitudes and interest are holding up, I read a book or two in Spanish as well.
Spanish Language Resources
Nacho Books. We use the Libro Inicial de Lectura. There is no instruction on how to teach Spanish phonics, but each page introduces a new sound/syllable. The price on Amazon fluctuates tremendously, but you can always grab it at Cultural Bytes for $16.
Sabio Octavio. I use these workbooks in Spanish to help us keep learning about grammar and practice reading and comprehension. (These workbooks are not available in all levels and subjects anymore.)
And that's our week in super detail!
If you've read this long, I'd love to hear how your weeks are organized, and how you merge two languages in your homeschool. Let me know in the comments!