No school? What should I do with my bilingual kids at home?
Turn this into an Amazing Bilingual Family Bonding Adventure
As whole communities are going into lockdown and quarantine, schools are closing all over the world, here some ideas of how bilingual kids and us parents can benefit from this time together. Our schools, here in Hong Kong, have been closed since January and even though online schooling is continuing and the teachers are doing a phenomenal job in these very trying times, I thought it might be helpful to give some nervous parents out there, some ideas and some advice. Most importantly let me tell you that it has been a very positive time for my family, a bonding time that I am happy we are actually having. As much as we all are looking forward to returning to our “normal” lives there are positive sides to this time together as a family. So…what about trying to make the most out of it.
Keep a schedule
Maybe basic, but try to keep a schedule, it will make the rest of the day easier. Start with a bit of sport, maybe stretching or sun salutations or simply jumping rope. Organize a family jumping rope competition. And to include the languages use this time to practice your numbers and math skills in two languages. Make sure you plan a family activity for every day, we’ll go into some easy examples below. Watch out for screen time, hanging out around the house screen time seems to creep in very easily and quickly, both for kids and parents.
Keep mind, body, and language in good shape
Talk about the coronavirus, teach your kids how to wash their hands properly, explain to them what is going on. It is a great time to learn about the world and how we are all connected, how we are all together in this and how we should not be afraid of each other but embrace each other’s differences and figure out how we can help each other. For example, Just as the Wuhan residents did, some Italian neighbors decided to hold an impromptu balcony concert to keep the spirits up. Why not? Have a look at this video, it looks like fun:
Keep organizing daily activities
Yes, this has made the world of difference in our family. We make a plan of what we would like to “achieve” by the next day. Ok, maybe this is the German in me, but I found once we started planning some activity for the next day, we all felt like we had a goal. Nothing complicated, here some ideas and of course they can be done in any language:
- Baking a cake (make the kids figure out the ingredients and amounts needed)
- Playing a board game (Choose different games that either focus on numbers or words)
- Arts and Crafts Project
- Write a letter to grandma (in the second language, of course)
- Going Mary Kondo and cleaning out the closet (donate the unwanted clothes and toys to kids in need)
- Making a weekly meal plan together (let the children figure out how many ingredients will be needed, use your food vocabulary and maths skills).
- Organizing a “Secret Santa” in March (each family member has to make something for another member of the family, nobody knows who the “gifter” is)
- Keeping a diary (practice those writing skills and at the same time give them a place where the can vent their feelings if they are not yet writing make it a drawing diary)
This is one dear to my heart, otherwise, I would not have started TimTimTom. Make it a family event, no matter what age the kids are, have a family read-aloud session. Maybe there is a book you all enjoy, or simply read the daily news together. You can then discuss the news as a family. Why not read the news in your home language.
Keep contact with other bilingual kids (virtual contact, maybe)
Call your loved ones, spend time using your second language. Make sure the kids continue to be in touch with their friends and family, even if it is virtual. Socializing continues to be important.
Keep your positive vibes – we are all in this together
And above all, stay positive! We are better together. With all our differences, we make the world a more interesting place, because we are all on it. Maybe this is the time to think out of the box and figure out how we can make a difference. Let’s share some ideas about how to make this lockdown period a valuable time. I just heard Italians will give a hand of applause to all their health care workers to say thank you for their hard work. What about a hand of applause around the world to health care workers, teachers, supermarket employees, truck drivers, etc…they deserve it!!!
And on this note keep safe, wash your hands and enjoy the time with your bilingual kiddos!!
Gaby is the co-founder of TimTimTom Bilingual Personalised Books, she lives in Hong Kong with hubby and their trilingual kids and dog.
A bilingual and personalized story that will spark your kid’s imagination and language ability.
You can customize the name and look of the child and choose any combination of two out of ten available languages.
(Some available language combinations: English-Spanish, English-German, English-Russian, English-Chinese, English-Portuguese, English-Italian, English-Dutch, English-French, French-German, Russian-German, Spanish-German.)
The books are now also available in one language
TimTimTom – Reading in Two Languages is Double the Fun