School is back in session, and while you are getting ready for the hustle and bustle of packing lunches, drop offs and pick ups, your kids are also making preparations - to see old friends, and make new memories! However, many students can find it difficult to focus after a relaxing summer. For Dual Kids, this is especially true if they “took summer off” from speaking their second language. It may have felt like a vacation, but after months of being monolingual, going back to Dual Language can feel like starting over. With these Five Tips for Back to Dual School, you’ll not only help your children ease back into class, you’ll also give yourself a head start to a successful and fun school year. 1 - Go Down Memory Lane You can help your kids refresh their language memory right at home. Start by encouraging them to go over some of their work from last year. Re-reading short stories, old homework, or even spelling tests are great ways to help them recall what they already know. If they’re already reading books, have them crack open a couple Spanish books. If you need a little guidance, this article from Babble.com features 30 Great Children’s Books in Spanish and is a good place to start. 2 - Encourage Patience Show patience for the process. Remember how long it took for them to build strong language skills in English? Well, becoming fluent in Spanish will not only take longer, their awareness of the difficulty can make them feel unmotivated. Let them know that it's ok to take their time. By showing them patience through your words and your actions, you can create an environment that lets them work without unnecessary pressure. 3 - Fun is Best One of the most important aspects of going to a Dual School is the introduction to different cultures. It’s also the most fun! Students love to engage with language through activities. Take this opportunity to further immerse them. Borrow books from the library and download apps and games that are in Spanish. Watch a family-favorite movie in Spanish or check out our list of YouTube channels to find some fun videos. Eat foods from Spanish-speaking countries - Mexican is always an easy option, but try Cuban or Spanish too. There are so many ways to bring the language into your home. Try them all out, and continue with the ones that stick. 4 - Be Consistent Going back to school is a great time to get into a routine, and language learning is no different. Set your child up with daily practices to keep them on the right track. Good breakfasts, plenty of sleep, time for homework and reading, etc. These are the basics for returning to any school, but as the parent of a Dual Kid, consider these additional steps:
Create a system to communicate with the teacher: Most schools will have orientation night or meet the teacher during which you’ll learn how to best communicate with them. Take advantage of every communication tool they offer so you can stay up to date on what content they’re reviewing in class and can help support it at home.
Prepare your home for Dual Language living: Consider adding labels to everyday items around your home. This is a great tool for helping your child stay immersed in Spanish. Label items that they come into contact with regularly. As they pick up those words with ease, move on to other items. Get creative!
Check in with your Dual Kid: Get in the habit of checking in to see how they are doing. How is class? What do they enjoy? In what are they succeeding? What do they need help with? This will not only help you understand where your child is academically, it can also help them articulate for themselves how they may be feeling.
5 - Give Yourself and Your Family a Break Your child’s success in Dual Language is important, but so is enjoying your time. Make healthy meals that your family loves, and make time exercise and play every day. Support their interests in extracurricular activities and non-language related subjects like mathematics. And delegate! Assign them chores and emphasize the importance of respecting their space, their family, and themselves. There is so much to learn in life outside of language. Take the time to relish the fun and adventure that exists beyond school.
Enrolling your child in a Dual Language program means so much more than just learning a language. Following these steps can allow you to take full advantage of the program. This is an exciting time for parents and students. With a little foresight and enthusiasm, your family will be ready as ever to tackle the school year ahead.