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About two months ago, we started using our kindergarten curriculum with Xavi (that cutie you see above). While it’s not exactly typical to begin a new school year in March, I had a few reasons for this “soft start”. Honestly, though, with a new baby scheduled to arrive in August, my main motivation was simple: I wanted some “cushion time” in our school year for those sleepless newborn days!
We’re doing a four-day-a-week schedule for our formal lessons—reading, handwriting, and math—and everything else pretty much happens daily. We spend about an hour on sit-down subjects, and probably somewhere between 1-2 hours on other activities throughout the day, with most of that time being spent on read-alouds.
As you’ll see, our curriculum choices include a mix of English- and Spanish-language resources. To be honest, it includes less Spanish-language curriculum than I would prefer, but considering that all of these materials will be supplemented with plenty of real-life exposure to Spanish, I’m not too worried about that. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my bilingual parenting journey thus far, it’s the value of flexibility and making do with what you have. After we tackle reading and writing in English—something our state requires us to test—we’ll add in Spanish language arts, so there will be plenty more formal Spanish study in our future.
Here’s a look at what we’re using in each subject area this year—I hope that you other families on this bilingual homeschooling journey will find this helpful!
History, Bible, and Literature
I’m happy to announce that we will officially be Sonlighters next year! I have loved the philosophy and methodology of this curriculum ever since I heard of it, so I could not wait to give Xavi his very first “box day” this spring.
Here are a few reasons that our family chose Sonlight’s curriculum:
Our top reason: the first few levels of Sonlight are very easy to use in a bilingual homeschool, as many of the books on their reading lists are available in both English and Spanish. It was easy to purchase these through Amazon—and if you’re looking for what’s available for your own young children, here’s my list for Spanish language books for Pre-K 4/5 (which is what we’re starting with).
I love that Sonlight is literature-based. This not only fits my kindergartener’s learning style really well, but it also dovetails nicely with our family reading culture (and my own training as a literature scholar).
Sonlight allows us to educate our children from a Christian worldview, but does not shelter them from other belief systems. It also puts a heavy emphasis on learning about other cultures, which is something that we value highly in our family—and which, in fact, is our whole reason behind language learning!
If you’re considering using Sonlight in your bilingual homeschool, I’ll be putting up a post (or maybe a Facebook live?) with more details about exactly how to do that soon. I need a little more time to work through the curriculum so that I can make the best suggestions possible, but I hope to have it ready before the baby is born.
By the way, if you are not a Christian family, Sonlight’s partner company, BookShark, offers a faith-neutral curriculum featuring many of the same books.
After a failed initial attempt to teach reading with another curriculum, I am happy to report that we are loving All About Reading. We started with Level One (with no prior phonics instruction) and Xavi really enjoys the multi-sensory games and funny readers that are the backbone of the program. Per the advice of bilingual reading specialists, we’re spending this year focusing on his reading skills in English (as that’s his dominant language) and will move on to Spanish once he’s got those down. Since reading skills—like decoding—transfer across languages, he won’t be “behind” from taking this approach.
After finishing Preschool Math at Home earlier this year, we have moved on to RightStart Math. We’re quickly working our way through Level A and Xavi really enjoys this curriculum’s game-based approach to learning math. I like that he is both learning to think mathematically (which is the main focus of this particular curriculum) and that he feels confident about his math skills (I never did).
I have struggled with mathematical thinking my entire life, so it’s really important to me that I learn to teach this subject well (and I hope to re-learn some of it myself in the process!). If you find yourself in the same boat, here are a few books that I have found helpful and would recommend to you:
A Mind for Numbers: This book of cognitive science explains how we learn math and why some people are “better” at working with numbers than others (hint: it’s not natural ability)! The lessons that you take away from this book will help you adopt (and teach your kids) a growth mindset for math learning in your homeschool.
Arithmetic for Parents: This quick read will help you to understand the hidden processes within elementary math and help you break down the steps of teaching arithmetic, so that you can help your children best grasp what they’re learning.
I hemmed and hawed for quite a while about choosing a handwriting curriculum, but finally settled on Handwriting Without Tears. If you’re homeschooling bilingually, you should know that Handwriting Without Tears is actually available in English and Spanish at most levels, so it’s a great resource for families like ours. We’re currently working through “Kick Start Kindergarten”—in English, so as to not confuse Xavi with his reading lessons. Later on, when he’s mastered reading in Spanish, we’ll switch to the Spanish curriculum (likely for cursive).
We love our local nature center’s science classes for young children—and they’ve even had some bilingual programs in the past! We’re not doing any “official” science curriculum this year—I just use library books to preview whatever class we’re doing (usually, they meet about once a month). My favorite resource for basic science books in Spanish (suitable for preschoolers-early elementary) is the ABDO Kids series. They have books on everything from baby penguins to thunderstorms—all beautifully photographed and with simple language that even my toddler can follow.
I am attempting—note the careful choice of words here—to institute a “morning time” this summer, which I hope to also keep going once the baby arrives. I’m going to run most of these subjects on a loop schedule, with the exception of Portuguese, which I’ll include every day (even if it’s just listening to one song in Portuguese). This will allow us to fit in all of the riches that I want our boys to experience—and which they are now ready to experience together.
Portuguese: Linguacious flashcards (here’s my review of this great tool), our DK visual dictionary, kids’ music in Portuguese, and picture books in Portuguese published by ABC Multicultural (the Kindle versions are incredibly affordable). I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of Talkbox Mom in Portuguese, which is scheduled to come out this fall!
Art Appreciation: During our worldschooling trip to Mexico last year, I collected a number of children’s art books in Spanish. My use of these books is really simple: I keep them on the coffee table, randomly open them from time to time, and together, we discuss the paintings that we see. My favorites are Zoom! en el arte, which provides close-up looks at famous paintings, and DK’s Arte para niños, which is more like an art encyclopedia.
Drawing/Art: Xavi will be taking art lessons in Spanish from his former preschool teacher, who is herself a trained artist and architect. These classes are one of the ways that we encourage him to develop relationships with native speakers—a key motivation for language learning!
Music Appreciation: The Spanish-language podcast Allegro Mágico is the “spine” of our music appreciation curriculum, and I support it with living books (in both languages) from our local library. We also listen to classical music every night during dinner using our Amazon Music subscription, which makes it nearly effortless to me to expose my kids to the very best composers and their work.
Other Spanish-Language Curriculum Options
If you’re looking for other Spanish-language curricula for your own children, here are a few resources to consider:
Rod and Staff — complete Christian curriculum available entirely in Spanish for grades K-8
Nobis Pacem — Charlotte Mason-inspired Catholic curriculum available entirely in Spanish
Lemonhass — literature-based Christian curriculum available entirely in Spanish
Educazion — self-directed, online Christian curriculum available entirely in Spanish
What resources are you using in your bilingual homeschool next year—or what resources are you searching for? Join the conversation over in our Facebook group, where I—and over 1,200 other parents—can help you find what you need!