Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Did We Get Here

I have tons of hair-brained ideas, as my husband would certainly agree.  I used to get an idea in my head and immediately go into full-afterburner mode putting my idea into action.  Sometimes it worked out and I actually accomplished something useful, ie. the few furniture projects I've built.  Other times I either came to the realization that my project is way too big  (the online business I wanted to start) or I start it, and it fizzles out over time (my Etsy fundraising store for my favorite charity, Farm of the Child).  Over the years I've learned to give my hair-brained ideas over to God and allow Him to bring to fruition the projects He deems worthy.  As I said in my first post, I desperately want my children to be bilingual.  Up until a month ago, I truly believed that there was no way I could teach my kids Spanish.  I just didn't know where to start, and I didn't believe I had the time to create a curriculum/materials.  I believed it so intensely that I came up with these hair-brained ideas for my kids to learn Spanish from someone besides me.

--Get a group together to open a dual-immersion charter school within 9 months, so my son could start Kinder there.  (I'm not just talking little bit hair-brained, I'm talking monster hair-brained!)

--Apply for a zone variance to one of the 8 Clark County public schools that offers dual-immersion.  (Ok, not that hair-brained, except for the fact that the closest school offering dual-immersion is 35 minutes away.  This wasn't an option anyway, as every school gave me huge negative as far as a kindergarten zone variance.  I can't blame them with 35 plus kindergarteners in each classroom.)

--Move across town to be zoned for a school with dual-immersion.  

--Pay someone to come into my home and teach my kids Spanish, while I found a job.  

Then one day I had an "aha" moment.  I had already resigned myself to the fact that I would be homeschooling my son for Kinder next year.  I missed getting him enrolled in a nearby charter school by 20 minutes, and I didn't feel that sending him to a public Kinder in a class of 30something students for 2 1/2 hours a day was really worth it.  I mentioned in the first post that my husband and I are frugal, so paying for full-day Kinder was not an option.  Somehow I came up with the idea to search for homeschool curricula in Spanish.  After all, there are many options for boxed homeschool curricula.  Surely they homeschool in Spanish-speaking countries.  Right?  Not so much.  I found out that homeschooling is not widely practiced, and sometimes even illegal, in other countries, and my search came up with zero boxed homeschool curriculum options in Spanish.  But I did find several sites for resources and support for families trying to homeschool in a second language.  I also came across a Mexican online homeschool curriculum, educazion.com.  I guess the promising outlook of finding a support community online, as well as some material was enough to inspire me to dismiss all my hair-brained ideas and get moving on enseñando mis niños español.

I prayed about enrolling my kids in educazion for a couple of days, then finally moved forward.  So far, I've only looked at the preschool course, which is pretty basic, but then so is preschool.  It's enough, though, to at least give me some direction as far as where to begin with teaching my kids Spanish and a path on which to continue.  And that's where we are right now, just beginning, laying the foundation to begin our dual-immersion homeschool next August.

Websites for support/information

Multilingual Living
Mommy Maestra Blog

Friday, February 24, 2012

Never Would Have Guessed...

If someone would have asked me 15 years ago if I ever thought I would teach, the answer would have been a resounding "NO!"  If someone would have asked me 5 years ago if I ever thought I would homeschool, the answer would have been the same.  So here I am with a few years experience teaching in public school, 5 years of being a stay at home mom, preparing to begin our gran aventura in homeschooling.

One attitude which has not changed over the years is my passion for languages.  I love being bilingual and desperately want my children to be bilingual.  I want my children to have an advantage that I didn't have: learning a second language as a young little sponge.  To me learning one (at least) other language is on the same  level as learning a musical instrument or participating in sports--it leads to a well-rounded individual, and the advantages stretch well beyond the benefit of knowing two languages.  But more about that later....

Five and half years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest son, I had all these grand illusions of speaking and reading to my child in Spanish.  Oh, it would be so easy, after all I had taught dual-immersion 1st grade for a year.  I scoffed my bilingual friends who said it was actually very difficult to speak to their children in their second language.  Huh, that would not be me! (So I thought).  I started out reading to my son in Spanish from day 1 and did as much speaking in Spanish as I possibly could.  Turns out, though, that speaking in a second language is much more difficult than I thought, especially being surrounded by English speakers.  Turns out I also underestimated my son's intelligence and will.  At 10 months he began screeching miserably if I tried to read to him in Spanish and would continue to do so until I began reading in English.  The whole bilingual baby gig would be more of a challenge than I anticipated.  My friends were right!  Oh Well, not the 1st or last time I underestimate the effort required to produce an end result.  

My son's obvious dislike of Spanish coupled with the fact that we were living short-term (military family) in Okinawa, Japan, along with a host of other excuses (which I'm great at making), resulted in my wonderful collection of children's Spanish books sitting unused, gathering dust.  My hopes for a bilingual baby were dashed (at least for now).

A few years later I decided to try again.  I began making preparations for "Mommy's Spanish Preschool." We did OK, learned colors and some greetings, when once again life happened.  After only 16 months in Florida, Uncle Sammy sent us packing for Las Vegas.  Being the frugal couple that we are, my husband and I did a DITY (Do it yourself) move.   That was enough to put any sort of homeschooling on hold for quite a long time.  

Now one thing that I love about Las Vegas is that there are plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish, especially when compared to Japan.  My first thought was, "Maybe we can hire a native-speaking nanny."  But as mentioned previously my husband and I are (to put it nicely) frugal.  It just seemed silly to me to hire someone to do a job which God had given me the necessary skills to do.  All I needed was to stop making excuses, muster up some confidence in my abilities, and start prioritizing my time.  Sounds easy, right? 

My son is now 5 and his little brother 3.  After many months of praying, thinking, researching, consulting, surfing, etc., I have decided to homeschool my oldest for kindergarten and attempt to teach him in a dual-immersion setting.  I have spent many hours searching the internet for other immersion homeschoolers.  I have found several, but none who are non-native speakers.  If a non-native immersion homeschooler happens upon this blog, I hope to chat because I feel like I'm venturing into the unknown.  Either way, here we go, on our gran aventura.