Exploring ways to teach my kids to love Spanish is teaching me a lot. Mainly I have learned that it’s not as easy as all of the literature I have read suggests. I had a vision of being calm and happy while they listened oh-so-attentively. We would laugh and sing our lessons in Spanish so blissfully. (Sigh) Turns out, I may not be the best teacher. Even though they do get excited about learning sometimes, there are times that are a lot more difficult. Here are six lessons my kids have taught me about teaching so far.
- Be patient and dedicated to the cause.
I truly admire good teachers. It takes such patience and dedication to get through to little excitable minds. I am learning how to not get worked up, though. Hopefully my kids will see how I am trying and they will then want to be patient and not give up on whatever they try in the future as well.
- Teaching with just words gets dull fast.
If there isn’t a catchy tune, words that rhyme or a silly story I will lose their attention so fast, all hope will be lost for learning that day. There are a lot of great resources online with rhymes and songs that are so fun for my boys. I don’t even have to set the kindle up for them anymore. My 4 year old can turn it on and find the exact song he is looking for without any help from me and he even sets it up for my 2 year old to play word games in Spanish. Oh games, songs and music; how I love you!
- Make it short and sweet.
Being how my little ones are so young, I can’t expect them to sit and pay attention for too long every day. I have said before that we try to do our “hora en español” (Spanish hour) but I have found that I have to break up that hour with different activities. We now add little dances to Spanish songs, we jump around just to shake things up and sing at the top of our lungs because what kid doesn’t like to scream?
- Incorporate messy fun
Let them get their hands dirty while you teach. Painting is a great way to review colors and textures. Learning ingredients, steps and tools while they help you make dinner is one of my favorite things to do. Not to mention this helps me make dinner with them by my side (BONUS). We are a family that loves to eat, so if it has to do with food, they will pay attention.
- Be creative
Show them that you love the language you are trying to teach them. If they see that you take the time to make something just for them, they will love it, too. It could be as simple as taking the time to search for printouts they can color having to do with a specific topic or object. You can also set up the craft table in advance with everything they will need for your craft of the day before they are ready to get crafty. They will be excited to see all of the colors and everything set up just for them. This only leads to happy crafting.
- Create Your Own Memories.
Another idea is create your own characters for them. I wrote a series of picture books in both English and Spanish just for my boys. I used the same characters throughout so they could get to know them and learn with them. Even though my drawings look like they were done by a kindergartener, they know that they were made just for them. I think they appreciate that. They even sometimes ask me to draw the main character with sidewalk chalk when we are playing outside, which is quite flattering for me. They have become like part of the family. They may see something in the drawings that I don’t see; hopefully that something is LOVE.
Once they see how much effort you put into everything and how excited you are about it, they will be excited, too. Sure there will be the days when they don’t want to learn and days when you are so frustrated that you don’t want to teach. All you can do is find a happy place and try again the next day. Happy Teaching!
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