I have been wanting to write a post on how to teach preschoolers Spanish for a long time now.
This is one of my favorite age groups because they are so eager to learn! They are much more aware of their language abilities and they are thirsty for more. I am excited to share with you some of my favorite ideas for how to teach preschoolers Spanish. Before we get into the fun stuff, let’s talk about what you can expect during these years.
I am going to cast my net a little wide and consider kids ages 3 through 5 for this age group.
Three to four year olds
- Can use up to four sentences at a time
- Speech is clear enough to be understood by unfamiliar adults
- Chats about their day with others
- Can answer simple questions
- Uses plural words
- Sentences include four or more words
Four to five year olds
- Uses sentences that have more than one verb
- Can tell short stories
- Will often keep the conversation going
- Names letters and numbers
- Can adjust the way he or she talks depending on the time or place
Alright now that we know what we can expect from our bilingual kids during this stage, let’s dive into some of my favorite strategies for how to teach preschoolers Spanish. (Check out previous tips on strategies for teaching babies and toddlers).
You will notice that for each strategy I am going to tell you what YOU can do to execute it. But I get it, talking with or at your kid all the day is not always going to be fun for them or for you. So I always like to help you visualize how to use these strategies to teach your preschooler Spanish while playing. For fun, I like to throw in the toys and tools I have used with my OWN kids for each one.
Some of the examples I will list here are specific to help teach preschoolers Spanish. However, these strategies can be used with any language.
We want to help our preschoolers connect the new words that we are teaching them to things they already know. Build on the vocabulary your kids already know and add more depth. This is important otherwise their words will be limited to just the daily routines with you. My husband is a physicist so math and science are a fun way to add more depth to vocabulary using words our kids already know. One thing we like to do is play with a toy tape measures. They not very expensive and if your kids already know numbers, you can use their previous knowledge to talk about measuring, counting, numbers even the items that you chose to measure.
Provide your littles one with multiple opportunities to USE new words. They can use them as they read/write or as you read/write. Also create opportunities for your kids to use their new words through conversations. One unique way to provide meaningful use of words is through coloring books. My daughter loves to color. We have a bunch of coloring books and when we color together I like to talk about what we are coloring. I describe what I am working on and encourage her to describe it as well. We talk about what features we can add or even build a story from the image. It can be really fun and coloring books are very affordable.
Vocabulary is learned when language learners encounter the same word or concept many times. Offer your kids an opportunity to hear words often. For a while, both of my kids were really into this pop up play tent that my oldest got for her birthday. I could guarantee that EVERY single day, they were going to go in there to play in it. This was a perfect way for me to add some repetition to the new words I was introducing because they were naturally attracted to playing with the tent daily. All I had to do was incorporate the new words we were working around our play.
Read to your preschoolers every single day! Every single day you should set aside at least five minutes to read texts in the target language to your kids. Lack of variety can be a problem but don’t let that be an excuse. If you are reading the same text often, make sure you are reading to your kids. Check here for more ideas on how to find books in your target language. Right now, my daughter is in love with a bedtime story collection called El Tesoro de los Cuentos para Dormir. It has all the classic bedtime stories with some great words. It is the type of book that we will read many times over and probably learn a new word or two every time we read it.
If you are looking for a way to teach preschoolers Spanish and get them engaged in the process consider documenting. We have a notebook where we have started to jot down new words that we learn. This is really simple but it gets my preschooler asking more questions about how to say certain things in Spanish. She loves to look through the notebook even though she cannot yet read. This can grow with your child and it creates a good habit to build confidence around asking questions.
I hope you will try one or all of the strategies. I can guarantee you that you will see a difference and feel confident that you can teach preschoolers Spanish!
What strategy can you add to your toolkit to teach preschoolers Spanish?