Sonrisas Spanish Blog

spanish curriculum for preschoolWhen implementing a homeschool Spanish curriculum for preschool or elementary-aged children, you face a unique challenge: Your child does not have a classroom full of students to speak with. This decreased opportunity for peer-to-peer practice means that you need to use different strategies than a traditional classroom teacher. Supplement your child’s second language curriculum and encourage speaking practice with these effective tips.

  • Learn Spanish with your child. As your child’s primary instructor, you will be the person they speak with the most. If you are not a native speaker and don’t already know Spanish, learn the language alongside your child. To boost your knowledge, consider signing up for an adult Spanish class. Once you know the language as well, you and your child can have conversations together.
  • Bring them to a conversation group. These group activities can be especially effective for older elementary-age children. Conversation groups are usually a relaxed group of both native and non-native Spanish speakers. By participating in these gatherings, your child will boost their fluency and pronunciation skills.
  • Find other homeschoolers to learn with. It is very likely that you are not the only local family implementing a children’s homeschool Spanish curriculum. Use social media or other networks to find other families to learn with. Your children can either complete the curriculum together or practice outside of their lessons.
  • Encourage your child to read to you. Buy a set of Spanish storybooks to read at night. If your child is old enough to read, ask them to read a book to you. For younger children going through a Spanish curriculum for preschool, encourage them to repeat the words you read out loud.
  • Let go of perfectionism. Remember that learning a second language takes time. Do not expect your child to have perfect grammar and fluency when speaking in Spanish. When the two of you are speaking, try to avoid correcting them. You can go over these errors during lessons, but for now, allow them to practice comfortably and freely.

Research shows that children acquire languages more naturally during their first eight years, especially through repetition, imitation, songs, and games. Keep this in mind while practicing Spanish with your child, building a diverse toolbox of strategies. By approaching their Spanish education correctly, you will notice your child’s skills flourish in no time.

homeschool spanish curriculumWhen implementing a classroom or homeschool Spanish curriculum for children, you may notice that your child or students are anxious to speak in the target language. If you have ever learned a foreign language yourself, you might relate to this experience. Speaking in a new language can feel uncomfortable. Use these techniques to make your students more secure with conversing in Spanish.

  • Warm Up: When starting the day’s lesson, be sure to begin with a simple speaking exercise. Consider reviewing what the students learned in the previous lesson with a short game, for example. This will ease the children into speaking in Spanish and switch their mind over from English.
  • Keep It Positive: Many students may be anxious about receiving negative reinforcement. Language is a central part of a human’s identity, so your students might feel threatened or embarrassed by only hearing feedback about what they are doing wrong. Give plenty of positive feedback as well to balance this out.
  • Encourage Peer Interaction: The children may feel more comfortable practicing their skills with each other than with an instructor. Peer-to-peer conversation is a great way to naturally build fluency. This is especially true for older elementary school students, as they are often chatty at this age.
  • Keep It Fun: By using games and other activities to practice grammar and vocabulary, your students can learn without realizing they are learning. Sprinkle these exercises into more traditional instruction, balancing kinesthetic learning with audiovisual. Take note of which games your students like the best, using these more often or as a special treat.
  • Integrate Smoothly: While your students or child are completing their classroom or homeschool Spanish curriculum for children, find ways to integrate Spanish into other parts of their daily routine. For example, ask them the Spanish words for their food at snack time. This will encourage familiarity and increase comfort with the language, making it less intimidating in general.

 
Reducing language anxiety in elementary Spanish lessons may require individual attention, as different students will exhibit various levels of comfort. Stay in tune with each student’s needs, checking in when you see a problem arise. As a their primary instructor you are responsible for making their learning experience as comfortable as possible, encouraging language acquisition in an open environment. Since students who learn a second language can learn a third more easily, learning Spanish through speaking will open their mind to taking the same approach with another language in the future.

preschool Spanish lessonsWhile your young students are still mastering their first language, now is the time to introduce a second one. Before age six, children have a heightened aptitude for pronouncing new sounds and learning grammar. By introducing elementary or preschool Spanish lessons during this critical period, you are setting up your classroom to be more successful in the immediate and distant future. The following are just a few of the benefits of encouraging a bilingual classroom environment early on.

  • More Adaptable Students: Since your students are completing Spanish curriculum lessons and incorporating the language into their school days, they are being forced to perform mental task switching. This mental skill will make them more adaptable and flexible in other aspects of their academic life as well.
  • Heightened Cultural Awareness: Your classroom will no longer be a mono-cultural environment. Learning a second language comes with learning about other cultures, so your students will constantly be expanding their horizons.
  • Generally Improved Language: Especially for students learning from preschool Spanish lessons, this second language acquisition is happening as their are expanding their mastery of their first language. For some students, Spanish might even be their third language. By introducing this bilingual education, you will likely see improved reading, writing, and verbal skills across the board.
  • Improved Career Prospects: While college and career decisions are far off for your students, it is never to early to prepare. By introducing Spanish early, you are already giving your students expanded job options for adulthood. Bilingualism is a very marketable skill.
  • Better Memory: You can expect your students to pick up math and history facts much more easily now. Bilingualism improves memory, leading to improved cognitive retention of information in other school subjects.

 
By introducing a Spanish curriculum for kids, you are giving your students a clear advantage. Once your students begin to retain and master a second language, you will likely notice a change in your classroom environment. These young children will have improved attention, sharper fact recall, and heightened ability to adapt to various tasks. As society becomes more global and interconnected, you will be doing your students a service by establishing a bilingual classroom.

spanish curriculumAs a parent of a homeschooled child, you may be looking for ways to implement second language acquisition into your child’s education. In addition to purchasing the Sonrisas Spanish School curriculum for homeschooled elementary-aged children, there are specific techniques that you can use to reinforce learning. Follow these simple tips to supplement your child’s Spanish curriculum and incorporate more language learning into their lives.

  • Play TV, movies, and music in Spanish. Find child-friendly shows and music in Spanish. This exposure will keep your child’s listening and comprehension skills sharp. Encourage them to speak or sing along with the media, improving their pronunciation.
  • Introduce your child to a native speaker. Conversation with a native Spanish speaker is a great way to reinforce vocabulary, grammar, and fluency. This conversation mimics the immersion experience within your own home.
  • Learn Spanish with your child. Either by participating in the purchased Spanish lessons with your child, or by taking your own separate class for adults, try to learn Spanish yourself. This will allow you to converse with your child and keep up with what they are learning. If you are both able to chat in the target language, your homeschool Spanish curriculum can carry on throughout the entire day.
  • Travel to a foreign country together. Spanish is the official language of 21 countries worldwide. If you are able, visiting a Spanish speaking country is a great way to show your child the real-world application of learning a language. The trip will also add cultural context to their Spanish education, which is especially important if they do not have regular interaction with native Spanish speakers.
  • Encourage constant practice. From practicing the Spanish words for food in your kitchen to flipping through their favorite Spanish storybook set, make sure that they are using the language throughout the day. This will ensure that they are constantly improving their skills.

 
For you child, learning elementary Spanish can still be highly effective outside of a traditional classroom. To mirror the group learning found in a school, find other homeschool parents who are interested in teaching their children Spanish. This would expose your child to peers with whom to practice the language, pairing fun with language acquisition.

spanish curriculum for kidsWhen it comes to second language acquisition, there is no time like the present. Preschool and elementary-aged children are in the prime development stage to achieve bilingualism, as their ability to hear and reproduce new sounds will greatly diminish between the ages of eight and 12. As your child reaches bilingualism, they will experience its benefits throughout their life.

  1. Heightened Attention
    A Spanish curriculum for kids could have deeper cognitive benefits than just the language acquisition itself. Speaking two languages involves constant attention and task switching, which according to a NPR report, is a result of the brain having to focus on only speaking one language at any given moment. This improves what psychologists call “executive function,” which is basically the brain’s ability to focus, remember instructions, multitask, and plan.
  2. Better School Performance
    Bilingual children seem to do better in school. According to NPR, a 30-year study at George Mason University found that duel-language students had higher test scores than children in mono-lingual, English-only classrooms. After analyzing eight million student records in six states, researchers also found improved attendance, higher parental involvement, and improved behavior among the bilingual students.
  3. Reduced Risk of Dementia
    According to The Hanen Centre, learning a second language could eventually protect the brain against the cognitive impacts of aging. In one study, researchers found that the onset of dementia was delayed by four years in bilingual patients when compared to monolingual patients. So, while your child’s elementary Spanish curriculum is likely showing immense immediate benefits, these benefits could also carry on through adulthood.
  4. Improved English Reading Skills
    In an American University study, researcher Jennifer Steel spent four years analyzing the performance of students in Portland, OR, according to NPR. Ten percent of students in this district are assigned to a duel-language classroom through a lottery system before entering kindergarten. Steele found that the students in duel-language classrooms were essntially a full school year ahead of their peers in terms of English reading skills. In other words, your child’s elementary school Spanish curriculum could help their English skills as well.

 
After beginning their Spanish curriculum for kids, and continuing on their track for bilingualism, your child is setting themselves up for cognitive success later in life. Take advantage of this time of learning by exploring your language education options today.

spanish for preschoolOur world is rapidly expanding and becoming increasingly globalized, with cultures and languages merging and influencing one another. Here in the United States, the amount of native Spanish speakers has dramatically increased in the few decades. Yet, the Summer Institute of Linguistics reports that in the United States, only 17% of the total population speaks another language other than English. Over two-thirds of the world’s children are bilingual, due to rise of English as a global language and their proximity to other countries.

Since the United States is a primarily English-speaking country and is not as close to other foreign countries as a whole (as compared to Europe, for example), the need to learn a second language has never been as urgent as with other countries. However, as Spanish speakers become more prevalent in the United States, it would behoove the future generations of children to learn that second language, especially since learning another language has many other benefits.

When Can I Start My Child on Another Language?
The beauty of learning a language is that it’s actually easier to teach a child a language the younger he or she starts. Since a child is learning language skills from the time they’re born, that skill comes naturally and easily and is greatly enhanced before the age of six. Their ability to pronounce unfamiliar sounds and learn new grammar rules is much more malleable before that age. However, for the first eight years, children are busy picking up language skills, through imitating others, repeating what they’ve learned, and through songs and games.

Given that experts suggest the best time to introduce your child to a foreign language is even before the age of 5, looking into a Spanish for preschool program might be a great way to go. Spanish for preschool curriculum can be a great way to introduce these foreign language skills in a fun and easy way. Outside of the Spanish for preschool program, you can also purchase Spanish story book sets and read to your child at home or look into an outside Spanish curriculum for kids to really try and immerse them in the language.

What are the Benefits to my Child Learning Another Language?
Growing up bilingual can have many positive benefits for your child. Learning another language can help us empathize and relate better to other cultures, cultivate an interest in travel, and once you’ve learned a second language, learning a third, fourth, or even fifth comes much easier.

Bilingual employees can even earn more than monolingual employees! Research has shown that those who speak more than one language earn about 20% more on average than their colleagues who only speak one language. Children who are bilingual or multilingual are also shown to be smarter and better at problem solving and planning. Studies also suggest learning another language can help improve your memory and keep it sharp into old age.

Speaking Spanish can be especially useful — census reports state that it’s the second-most spoken language in the world (Chinese is the first), with almost 400 million native speakers! It outranks English in terms of global use. It’s the official language of over 20 countries across the world and there are plenty of amazing travel destinations that travelers can partake in more fully if they speak the language.

Give your child an amazing life skill when you seek out Spanish for preschool programs for your child to attend. Continue that education by looking at elementary, middle, and high schools that emphasize a Spanish curriculum for children. Learning how to speak Spanish as a second language will only become more beneficial for children in the future. It’s never too early to start your child with a new language!

spanish story bookSpanish is the official language of 21 countries around the world, making it one of the most practical foreign languages for your child to learn. Despite the benefits of learning Spanish as a second language, it can be difficult to actually engage your child and help them learn directly.

This is why we’ve collected a few helpful tricks that can make teaching your child more fun and a little bit more covert! Here’s how you can get started.

Watch Spanish Cartoons
Cartoons that focus on Spanish-speaking characters or even incorporate small bits of Spanish like “Dora the Explorer” are excellent ways to supplement your child’s preschool Spanish curriculum lessons. These cartoons are often fun, colorful, and interactive for children, encouraging them to participate and learn new phrases in a different language. Audiovisual media is a fun, engaging way for children to learn a new language, and you can incorporate it at any time during the day.

Make Learning a Game
Learning anything in a classroom setting can quickly tire your child mentally. Instead of sitting down and looking through flashcards, try to engage your child with a fun language-learning game. It also helps if you offer a reward like a snack or a treat when the game is finished. If your child can associate learning a new language with fun and games, it will ultimately be much easier for you and for them in the long run to learn the language.

Invest in Spanish Story Books
Everyone loves a good bedtime story, and what better way to help your child learn Spanish than by reading to them in that language? As your child gets older, they can transition into reading the books with your help. If you’re not ready for full on Spanish story books, try Spanish story book sets that have an English version to accompany them. Some books even incorporate side-by-side learning.

Learning a new language can be a challenge for both you and your child. Finding ways to make it fun is just one of the many things you can do to create a positive learning environment for you and your child.

childrens spanish curriculumIt’s no secret that learning Spanish is incredibly helpful in both an intellectual and career-oriented sense. But while it’s possible and still recommended to learn Spanish at any point in your life, it’s becoming more and more apparent that teaching a childrens Spanish curriculum at an early age is extremely important.

Spanish for preschoolers may seem like a challenge at first, but once you learn more about language learning, it’s easy to see why starting at such a young age is important. Here are just a few of the many reasons why it’s so important to start helping your child learn elementary Spanish at a young age.

Early Language Skills Are Developed
For their first eight years of life, children are naturally acquiring language skills. They learn through imitation, songs, and a variety of other methods. After eight or 10 years, a child starts to lose these innate abilities, making it much more difficult to learn a second language and retain what they’ve learned. If you take advantage of the time period in which your child is naturally learning new languages, it’s likely that they will have a much easier time learning Spanish and actually retaining what they’ve been taught through Spanish storybooks sets and other fun tools.

More cultural Appreciation
Most children don’t start learning about other cultures until pretty well on into their education. If you invest in your childrens Spanish curriculum at an early age, it’s great exposure to a culture that is different from their own. This can not only provide a base for a broader education, it can actually help you child understand and appreciate other cultures more later in their life.

Spanish is Widely Spoken
Spanish is the official language of 21 countries around the world, and there is a large population of Spanish-speakers in the United States. In a world that is increasingly bilingual, it makes sense that your child should be, as well. Not only will learning Spanish help them understand more people around them, it may play a large role in their career opportunities in the future.

Don’t let this amazing educational opportunity slip away!

SunMeet Katy Harris

Katy Harris began teaching kindergarten in 1993 in Steamboat Springs, CO after attending the University of Arizona and receiving her degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish and an endorsement in bilingual education. In 2005 Katy took a break from teaching to raise her two boys. During this time she tutored and taught Spanish to a homeschool co-op group of elementary through middle school students. When she returned to teaching in the public schools in 2012, she taught reading intervention and then landed a job teaching Spanish at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat. Katy teaches grades K-5th , seeing almost 600 students once per week for fifty minutes as part of the Specials team. In her first year teaching Spanish, she traveled to the different classrooms with a cart, which was very challenging. She is now fortunate to have her own classroom where she creates a lively and immersive Spanish environment. Soda Creek Elementary recently received the John Irwin School of Excellence award given by the Colorado Department of Education.

 

BookHow Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Katy

Katy uses Sonrisas Level I and Level II for her K-3rd grade students, and she adapts content from those lessons for her 4th and 5th graders. She recently purchased Sonrisas Level III and is planning on diving in with that for her older students. Katy loves the literature that accompanies the lessons, and she feels that the storybooks really help her connect with her students. She says that the literature helps them to stay grounded in their Spanish—especially when she has only a limited amount of time with them. She also appreciates how the storybooks in the lessons are effective at helping students retain language concepts. In short, Katy thinks that the Sonrisas lessons really stick with her students.

 

lightbulb4Teaching Tips from Katy

A common practice for Katy is to have students hold on to the art projects from the lessons so that she can use them for review. She’ll have students write phrases, vocabulary, and questions from the lessons on their art projects and then review with them—often times holding on to them for weeks—before sending them home. Katy’s 1st-5th grade students have composition books in which they glue many of the art projects and write key phrases and vocabulary. Katy will then use these for review throughout the year. This also provides her students with a nice portfolio-like product that they can use for reading and review and that they can show to parents at the end of the year.

In her classroom, Katy sets up a variety of different stations for her students where they can practice their Spanish through reading, writing, games, and interacting with the many visuals in the room. Her younger students do an activity where they “write around the room”—they search for words from the various classroom visuals and write them on white boards. Katy also mentions that she likes to keep her students moving.

 

heart4What Inspires Katy

Katy loves the subject she teaches and believes that learning languages is fascinating. She likes that she gets to have a lot of fun with her job, and she enjoys singing, acting, and being dramatic. She loves the energy of working with children and having the opportunity to learn alongside them. She feels that teaching elementary Spanish is a great profession because she gets to grow and learn more every day. Katy really enjoys that she is able to help kids realize that learning Spanish is an attainable goal.

Circle TimeIf you would like to connect with Katy, you can do so by emailing her at kharris@ssk12.org.

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher celebrates teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum and tells their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

spanish storybookIf you’re looking for a great preschool Spanish curriculum for your child, there’s no better place to start than in your very own home. Spanish storybooks are a great place to begin. And the earlier, the better! Your child’s ability to pronounce unfamiliar sounds is much more enhanced before the age of six.

Not sure where to look for the perfect Spanish story book sets? Here’s a short list of great Spanish storybooks for you to read with your child.

La Cenicienta

Written by Chilean poet and Noble Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, this story recounts the fantastic tale of Cinderella, in Spanish of course! The book uses meter and rhyme to tell the story, which may make it easier for your child to comprehend at a young age.

Frida

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic Hispanic women in history for both her artistic and personal accomplishments. This beautifully illustrated book by Jonah Winter gives you and your child a glimpse into the colorful and surreal artistic life of a Latina legend.

Juegos Tradicionales

Juegos Tradicionales was written by Maria Angelica Ovalle and illustrates 34 of the most popular games played by children in Latin America. Not only is this a great way to start teaching Spanish in the home, it’s an excellent way to help your child get a look at a completely new culture and even learn a few games that you can play together.

ABeCedario de Plantas

If you and your child are interested in learning about nature, then this is the book for you. Not only does author Yanitzia Canetti cover a wide variety of flora in this book, but there’s even a glossary in the back to help you learn as you go. In addition, the book is filled with beautiful visuals to further aid the learning and reading process.

Learning a new language can be tough, but if you start at home and with simple things like Spanish story book sets, you and your child should be well on the way to making easy learning of Spanish.