2016 Recap – What worked and what didn’t


2016 recap - what worked and what didn't(1)

The start of a new year is usually met with excitement.  We get to build on the successes of the previous year and get a second chance at the things that were less successful.

In our family, we spend a lot of time around goal setting at the beginning of the year. Today, I am bringing YOU into the reflection process that my husband and I go through before we even set our first goal.

Have you done any planning around what you want your kids to achieve this year?

If not, I have got you covered.  I am launching a free 5-day challenge to help you “perfectly plan” 2017!  You’ll have a chance to craft your vision for what you want your kids to achieve, reflect on your journey so far and plan out how to take action in 2017!

Join me in the challenge and make 2017 your best year yet on the language journey!

You can sign up here for free and get help to be intentional this year!

Day 2 of the challenge is all about reflecting on the previous year.

 I sat down with a special guest, my husband Todd and we did just that.

The Question

What amazing things did you accomplish with your kids this year?

The answer

2016 was a great year for our family’s language journey.  Here are just some of the wonderful things that we experienced:

Our son started talking with his first word being “Dada!”  He is now learning lots of words and we are having so much teaching him new things.

We also took our first trip to Europe as a family of four.  This trip seemed impossible at first with such young children but we did it and learned so much from the experience. A big thank you to the folks at Multicultural Kid Blogs who encouraged me to do the trip despite the challenges that come with traveling with little kids.

Our daughter’s vocabulary in English and Spanish also really took off this year.  We love it when we see her experimenting with her new language skills.

We also rejoiced as a family when we noticed how well others around us recognized our children’s bilingualism.  The teachers at our daughter’s preschool were blown away when they realized just how much Spanish she really speaks.  We had been telling them since she joined but once she finally opened up to them, they loved it!

The Question

What did you do in order to achieve them?

The answer

We tried many things this year.  Some worked better than others but here are some of the highlights that we think really helped our kids in their language journey.

As a family, we do not watch a whole lot of TV but when we do, we try to make it intentional.  We have made it a rule that all screen time has to be in Spanish.  Todd will include closed captions in English for the Spanish shows.  This way he is able to follow along the story and talk to our daughter about what they just watched.

For more ideas on how to make TV time more meaningful, you can check out this consulting call on the topic.

Library trips have also become a huge asset for our children’s learning.  We make it a ritual to go every two weeks.  There is always a priority to check out a large number of books primarily in Spanish. The kids are involved in the entire process and love the experience.  It creates a positive relationship with reading and it brings a whole lot of rich Spanish text into our home.

We have also worked hard to create meaningful relationships in Spanish for both kids.  Our daughter thinks that our son ONLY speaks Spanish.  This is great because it has created a need for her to speak Spanish. It also increases his exposure to our target language.

The bedtime routine that we have established has also been very helpful.  We make sure to take turns reading books to our little ones.  Todd will read in English while I in Spanish.  We make sure we never skip it whether we are traveling or if we have guests in our home.

One other really helpful tool that we have introduced into our home are the Bilingual Avenue language kits.  These are activity kits specifically designed to promote language development.  Each member of the Bilingual Avenue club gets access to these with a new one arriving every month.

We, of course, use them ourselves and have found them to be really helpful in our own personal language journey.  They are a perfect resource to promote Spanish in our home.  They are also wonderful for setting the expectation that the activity must be played in the target language.  You can learn more about the language kits and some of the other resources form the Bilingual Avenue Members’ Club here.

The QuestionWhat amazing things did you want to accomplish with your kids this year but were not able to do so?

The answer

Like most bilingual families, we had our ups and we had our downs.  Here are some of the things that did not go as planned:

This year, I was planning on working on reading fluency.  I started working with a Spanish early readers book, a silabario.  This was a similar book to the one I used growing up so I was excited to share it with my daughter.  She was going through the motions but not loving this experience so we did not get as far as I had initially hoped.

We also were hoping to travel to a Spanish speaking country.  We thought perhaps we could include Spain in our trip to Europe.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time to plan and incorporate a pit stop in the area.

Our bedtime routine, although a strength for our family, did not start well in 2016.  We were trying to do one routine for both kids and it was kind of a disaster.  Our son is so young that he still needs to be active while reading.  They each have very different needs and by trying to do it together nobody was getting much out of it.

Exposure also took a hit this year.  Preschool is now a big part of our daughter’s life.  For better or worse, her school is all in English.  Therefore, the amount of exposure to Spanish that we can give her during that time of the day is small.

The Question

Why do you think you did not achieve them?

The answer

After some reflection, I noticed that I was asking my daughter to work on her new reading skills at the end of the day!  Of course she was not into it, she was tired!  Going forward we will work on these at another time of day when she is naturally more interested in working on her reading.

We had hoped to travel to a Spanish speaking country but we simply ran out of time to plan it.  We are hoping in 2017 to get ahead and be intentional about our planning. We want to our children and ourselves this opportunity!

Our bedtime routine got restructured to better accommodate the kids and their needs.  We now have two sessions.  We first read to our son while my daughter sits on the ground with my husband to listen to the story.  She is in the room but the focus is on our toddler and his needs.

Then, we transition to her room and start her usual bedtime routine.  This has worked really well for both kids and for us too.  It just seems less forced.

We will continue to make exposure to Spanish a priority for this year.  This is an ongoing goal to engage our kids’ Spanish speaking teachers and communicate the role they can play on the journey.  On our part, we will promote Spanish as much as we can when both kids are with us.

The Question

Who are you thankful for this year?

The answer

It is time to get into the attitude of gratitude.  As a family, we could not do what we do with and for our kids without our village.

I’d like to start off by thanking my parents and my siblings for their incredible support.  They are constantly thinking of ways to provide our kids with more exposure and need to Spanish.

To Todd’s parents who support our decision to raise bilingual kids.  They put up with me speaking Spanish to the kids in front of them and never complain.  Instead, they help us out by always picking up books for the kids in Spanish.

Our friends have always been there for us to give us a good laugh and to spend quality time with us.

We are thankful to the wonderful teachers that take the time to care for our kids.

I am also incredibly thankful to the Bilingual Avenue members.  You inspire me more than you know.  It is such a pleasure to be part of this community with you.  My favorite part of the day is when I get to hop in the forums and read all the incredibly things that you are doing.

And one more thank you to the Bilingual Avenue listeners, thank you for your ongoing support.

 Shout out

I’d like to give a shout out to Dino Lingo!  Dino Lingo is an interactive language learning program for children.  The program helps children learn the 200 most common words for kids.  It is all done through cartoon dinosaurs as they journey throughout their little world.  They were awarded Influential Parents Award in 2010 and 2011.  I love that Dino Lingo has a wide range of languages for its product!  You are likely to find your target language available.

Dino Lingo is giving away a free six month subscription to one lucky winner inside the Members’ Club.  Every one of our members that completes their 5 day challenge by January 31st will be entered to win this awesome prize!

Thank you to Dino Lingo for this special treat for our Bilingual Avenue members!


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