Monday, July 25, 2011

Q & A: Should I Homeschool My Preschooler In Spanish, English, or Both?

Photo by epSos.de         (I just love this little kid in the front!!)

This weekend, I received the following question from a reader:

Hi Mommy Maestra! Thank you for your recent entry about whether a preschool curriculum is necessary. I have a 2 1/2 year old son and a daughter that just turned 4. I am planning on homeschooling their preschool year and maybe longer. I'm hoping they get into a Spanish dual immersion program in Kindergarten. My goal is for them to become bilingual. At this point, we have only spoken to them in Spanish and I'm not sure if I should be introducing them to English...especially while teaching them. Do I just handle Spanish or both? Any feedback from you would be appreciated!

Thank you,
Blanca Pedroza


Dear Blanca,

Thank you for your email. A dual immersion program would be wonderful! How I wish I had that option!!

I am super excited for you, as I know you are about to begin a really fun time in your children's lives. As far as whether or not to introduce English, I don't think it hurts anything, but continuing in Spanish would be better. The reality is that they are not going to have trouble learning English if they go to school in this country. By third grade they will probably be fluent in English, too.

Many people fear that by teaching both languages they will loose their Spanish, but as long as the emphasis is placed on the mother language, your child can distinguish the difference and figure it out. However, having a firm grounding in your mother language allows you to transfer those skills towards learning a second language. I was raised with both languages at once. But unfortunately, I never received any formal training in writing Spanish, and to this day I am nervous and uncomfortable doing so. I can make myself understood, but my grammar is atrocious!

If you were planning to homeschool, I would suggest that you wait until Kindergarten to begin teaching English. If you are planning to send them to a dual immersion school, I personally, think you should wait and continue with Spanish. Give them a firm grounding so that by the end of preschool, they are able to recognize the alphabet and numbers, etc, in Spanish. This will be an advantage and allow them to transfer these decoding skill when the school begins teaching them English.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of preschool lesson plans available in Spanish. Try using some of the ones I mentioned in my previous article on preschool curricula. The great thing, though, is that at the preschool level, kids cannot read yet, so most of what they are learning centers around basic concepts such as letter and number recognition, shapes and colors, etc.

You can easily use English resources (and there are many!), but teach them in Spanish to your child.

These are just my humble opinions. I am not an expert in any way, but I am happy to share with you my thoughts as I know that as Latina moms we need support and advice from time to time with regards to our children's education.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If I don't know the answer, I can find someone who does. I hope this helps, Blanca!

Un abrazo,
~Monica


Are there any readers experienced in teaching preschool in Spanish? Won't you share your suggestions, thoughts, and/or resources with Blanca?

UPDATE: There's really no right or wrong here. They key is to be an actively involved parent. For those of you wanting to homeschool in English, take a look at my friend, Roxana's encouraging article about her Spanish-speaking daughter's first year in an English-only school.

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