Homeschool in Spanish: How to Teach Your Child Spanish at Home
If you’re thinking about starting to homeschool in Spanish but feeling overwhelmed at the prospect, this post is full of tips and strategies to help you get started—and stay motivated. ¡Ya es tiempo para comenzar!
A wonderful way to start the day is by incorporating a morning circle! It’s a time to simply come together and focus on gratitude, growth, and learning together. Your morning circle ritual can be conducted wholly or partially in Spanish. The key is to keep it consistent, enjoyable, and centered on your target language and learning goals. Ideas for what to do in your morning circle include:
- Lighting a candle, ringing a bell, and doing a few moments of mindful breathing together
- Giving each person a moment to share what they are grateful for that day
- Reviewing the calendar (month, date, days of the week)
- Singing Spanish songs
- Reviewing things learned or activities done the day before
- Reading quality literature (in Spanish and/or English)
- Completing a few pages of a workbook (handwriting, math, social studies, science or whatever subject you wish to focus on that day)
- Write a letter to a friend in Spanish (this is a great way to practice writing, grammar and punctuation)
Of course, you can implement this idea in your homeschool at other times of day. You might prefer the mid-afternoon to gather together over a snack. While the kids eat, read a poem or short story aloud in Spanish. Alternatively, get the kids ready for bed half an hour earlier than usual and then pull out a captivating chapter book to read aloud as a family.
5 Approaches to Teaching a Foreign Language
At this point, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with common approaches to language teaching, since most homeschool language curriculums use one or more of them.
Total Physical Response (TPR)
Neuroscience research has proven that there’s an intimate connection between physical movement and language acquisition. TPR emphasizes teaching vocabulary through bodily movements that go along with each new word or phrase. A teacher will instruct her student to “stand up,” as she demonstrates the action; the student then repeats “stand up” and mimics the action. The student’s native language is not used at all. Rather than being taught explicitly, grammar is learned “inductively” through exposure to a wide variety of phrases.
This model focuses on learning grammar through comparisons, for example: diagramming a sentence in both English and Spanish in order to help the student identify and understand the grammatical differences between the two languages. This model is generally focused on reading and writing more than speaking.
Repetition is key to language learning in this highly structured method that requires students to listen to, repeat, and memorize dialogues and short statements in the target language. Accuracy in speaking is the priority. No instruction is provided in the native language, and grammar is not a focus.
This approach teaches students to communicate in real-life scenarios in the target language.Thematic units focus on teaching subject-specific vocabulary, then incorporates various communicative tasks related to that theme. Explicit grammar instruction is not a core aspect of the communicative approach, although it is not prohibited.
This method is based on total immersion. All instruction is provided solely in the target language. This approach encourages children to start using the language from day one, and empowers them to use simple, common phrases, and repetitive practice exercises. Listening and speaking are priority, and grammar is gradually learned through inference over time.
Homeschool in Spanish for Kids of All Ages
Yes, learning a language is possible at any age! However, it’s important to remember that younger children learn in a different way than older children so that you can adjust your teaching style accordingly.
It’s also important to note here that not every language learning tool works well for your homeschool curriculum. Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and similar learning websites and apps were not designed for children, hence they lack the comprehensive approach that young language learners need to reach proficiency. Although they can be useful as supplemental tools, it’s better not to rely on these programs as your primary curriculum for homeschooling in Spanish.
A pervasive myth about language learning in US culture is that it’s best to wait until children are older (in middle or high school) to learn a foreign language. However, language learning research says just the opposite. Some people also believe that children who learn two languages at once will never learn either well. Not true! In reality, bilingual and multilingual children are more verbally adept than their monolingual amigos. Furthermore, young children have a few advantages in language learning. Starting early can both help them attain native-like accents and improve their overall cognitive function.
Learn the Brilliant Way to Homeschool Your Preschool (Pre-K) Child, Ages 2-5!
For kids from ages 6 to 12 (más o menos), it’s ideal to teach mainly through immersion. This involves providing real-life exposure to the language, playing language games, and speaking in the target language. The focus at this stage need not be on complex grammar or verb conjugations. A more effective goal would be to instill confidence in your child and give them plenty of practice with age-appropriate Spanish activities.
Middle and High Schoolers
For older children and teens, while the aforementioned strategies apply, they can also benefit from direct grammar instruction. Although young children are little language sponges, older children can learn languages more efficiently. Why? Because they can draw parallels between their native language and the one they’re learning.
In addition, seek out opportunities for them to interact with native speakers through online Spanish classes, online conversation practice, or be interacting with Spanish speakers in the community. Since learning a new language can be awkward—and the adolescent and teen years are a notoriously awkward time of life—push through the resistance and continue seeking out opportunities to develop this skill.
Choosing a Homeschool Spanish Curriculum
Today, we are fortunate to have access to a plethora of resources for homeschooling in Spanish. If you’re seeking a formal Spanish curriculum to fit your family’s needs, check out this comprehensive homeschool Spanish curriculum round-up. Another option is to set up online classes for your children right here at Homeschool Spanish Academy (HSA). At the end of this post, you’ll find more details on what we offer and how it works!
Whatever curriculum you choose, the key is consistency. For language learning, short, daily practice sessions are so much more effective than less frequent lessons only once or twice a week. These lessons don’t necessarily require your participation every time. Interactive learning activities can include watching sports in Spanish, listening to audiobooks in Spanish, or playing Spanish games online or off. Because motivation is essential for learning, aim to match lessons to your child’s interests as much as possible.
Surround Yourself with Resources and Support
No parent is an island, so don’t endeavor to homeschool in Spanish alone. Spanish-speaking friends and neighbors can support your family’s adventure in raising and educating bilingual kids. How can you provide your child with authentic Spanish-language resources and connect with other people who can partner with you on your family’s language learning journey? Check out these suggestions:
- Look up Spanish-language storytimes at your local public library. Not only will your kids love hearing the stories, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and network with other bilingual families.
- While you’re there, check out some books for Spanish read-alouds! If needed, ask the librarian for a brief tour of the Spanish-language book collection.
- Set up Spanish-language play dates or conversation groups via meetup.com or local Facebook groups.
- Volunteer with a community organization that serves Spanish speakers. Cultivate friendships that will give your children the chance to practice their Spanish often in a relaxed social environment.
It’s all about trial and error. If something doesn’t work, try a new activity. It’s worth thinking creatively about how to get your kids using their Spanish in daily life. Once they see how useful and fun it is, they’ll be much more motivated and therefore likely to learn the language.
Effortlessly Homeschool in Spanish with HSA
For the past decade, Homeschool Spanish Academy has provided remote learners with access to immersive Spanish classes. Our unique curriculum and teaching style is tailored to the needs of students of all ages and levels, from preschool to postgraduate. Learn more about how it works and book a free trial class for your kids as a fun, productive way to include Spanish in your homeschool routine.
Want to learn more about HSA? We look forward to serving you!
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