This is a sad story with a happy ending. It involves me WAY over doing it with enthusiasm which led to a hard crash and burn. But...I didn’t give up. Ready to hear how I failed Bilingual Kindergarten?
When my son was small “school” looked like cooking, playing, singing, and reading tons of great books - both in Spanish and English.
We hosted a weekly Spanish playgroup in my home with other bilingual families and had a BLAST. In short, Spanish - and learning in general for that matter - were fun and exciting for him.
When Kindergarten officially started, fun quickly took a back seat. You see, I bought a curriculum (in English) and decided we needed to get through the whole thing that year IN BOTH LANGUAGES.
It would be fun (I told myself). Kindergarten Spanish is not too hard for me, a non-native speaker, to simply translate as we go. He’s going to love this.
He did not love this.
He was very aware I was asking him to do double the work. He pushed back, I pushed harder. Many days ended in tears.
To top it off, we had a toddler tag-along and a nursing baby in the mix. Emotions were high.
I took Christmas break that year to assess the situation. Either I was sending my kiddo to public school and simply kissing my bilingual dream goodbye, or something needed to drastically change.
We were both terribly unhappy. Our life of learning together had become a burden. Spanish had become a burden. There was no fun and no joy.
As nice as it sounded to send my son off to public school at that point, I knew that was not the right decision for our family. I didn’t have time or energy to completely rethink school for the remainder of kindergarten. So what did I do?
I decided to switch our “school” time to English only (which was only about 1 hour a day at this point), and Spanish went back to being the language of fun and connection.
The plan worked to bring peace to our homeschool, but I felt like a failure.
I have taught young children my whole life. I worked hard to learn Spanish. I had dreamed of this day for YEARS. The day I would homeschool my kids in two languages. It would be all bright eyes, smiles, and laughter. How did it go so wrong?
Well, before you have kids you can’t factor in nursing babies and needy toddlers. You can’t possibly factor in your insane level of exhaustion and brain fog.
If you are in this season yourself, my friend, keep your head up.
Don’t judge your current self by the standard of your younger days.
I spent the second semester of our first official homeschool year thinking through how I was going to approach 1st grade in both languages.
I decided I would incorporate more Charlotte Mason methods into our homeschool. More habit training and excellent literature (in both languages).
I would join a coop that uses the Tapestry of Grace curriculum which is what I still use today. I decided I would search out a math curriculum in Spanish. (Which was another failure! But hey, I learned from that one too.)
The biggest change, however, was that I looked at what subjects could be studied in only Spanish, which needed to be studied in only English, and which could be studied in both languages.
This way, I did not have to do every subject in both languages.
You do not have to do every subject in both languages!
It took a bit of trial and error to find out exactly how to blend the two languages, but my son is now in 3rd grade, and I am happy to report we are still homeschooling and doing it in two languages.
Know what that means?
My bilingual Kindergarten failure didn’t matter in the long run, friends.
I took some time to breathe and maintain forward motion in the midst of night-time feedings and potty training. Then when I could manage (at the start of the new 1st grade school year) I tried my new plan.
You can pivot too.
If it's not working, take a break, think it through, and try again.
Press on, friends!
Thank you for sharing! This is so helpful to the community of parents wanting to jump into bilingual homeschooling and trying to remind ourselves it is double the work and it takes lots of slowing down and intentionality to figure out how it can work practically.
It’s so true! I’m glad this was helpful.
Grateful to have found this encouraging post! I, too, am a bilingual homeschooler and having a rough go at our pre-k year with my four year old, which was also “supposed” to have been amazing! hehe This is our first year using a purchased curriculum and I had been so looking forward to it, to cut down on prep time and having to invent my own activities, though I have worked as a teacher for years and have experience in lesson planning. I have a two year old as well and am less than a week from the due date of our third little one. After much stress over a curriculum that was just not really working for us (and hating to admit that the activities that I create at home are a better fit for us– because lesson planning was supposed to be done away with this year! lol), we took a 3-week or so break from school, and I’m now trying to figure out how to regroup and finish our pre-k year after baby arrives, and moreso, how to plan out our kindergarten year. This post was encouraging, as all is not lost! Thank you for your transparency in sharing!
I so glad it was helpful! It is so easy to feel like you’re crazy or you are the only one struggling. Not true! It’s normal to take some time to figure out what works for you. And what works often changes and needs tweaks in different seasons! 🙂 Blessings on your journey.