Homeschooling · Our Spanish Journey

The “Breakfast Game”!

As much as I have tried be sly in homeschooling my kiddos, I am a product of public education—it seems like they almost always see right through me! Although intellectually I understand the notion that preschool aged children learn best through play, my natural instinct is always to return to a school type setting: unintentionally “quizzing” them on their vocabulary (“How do you say. . .” “What does ‘x’ mean in English?”), wanting to force them into speaking Spanish, attempting to learn mostly from books, wanting to continue learning beyond their point of fatigue etc.

Not only do these habits generally lead to bored, frustrated kids, but they also seem to sound off an alarm in their heads: Warning, something educational is about to take place! Finally, about a week or two ago, my 3-year-old son “Handsome Man” responded to a poor introduction to learning with, “NO!! I don’t want TEACHER!” and I knew that I had to be doing something wrong.

I would love to say that I seized the moment and intentionally changed my methods; however, the reality is that I’m obsessed with researching teaching ideas whether I need them or not and I just happened to stumble upon a few new resources that turned us in a more productive direction. Hooray for serendipity!

Today, I’m going to share about one of those resources we’ve just begun this week: Play and Learn Spanish by Ana Lomba and Marcela Summerville. This book is filled with Spanish phrases and vocabulary associated with various daily routines for children and families. The point is to provide authentic Spanish that helps learning parents provide a truer “immersion” experience. I loved the added confidence of knowing that my translations were correct.

My “Type A” personality just had to start at the beginning with the morning routines, “¡Buenos días!” (“Good Morning!”) and “¡A desayunar!” (“Time for Breakfast!”). Full disclosure confession: I am horrible at waking up in the morning, especially after nursing baby “Bubbles” all night long. So several times this week, I woke up, found the kiddos’ playing, and invited them back to their beds to pretend they were sleeping. One day, we even played “¡A desayunar!” (“Time for Breakfast!”) in the middle of the afternoon. . .oops!

Each day, “Big Sister” and “Handsome Man” would scramble down the hall with eager anticipation and jump under their blankets to wait for the game to start. Then, amidst excited snickers and giggles, I would sneak into their room and declare, “¡A levantarse! (Time to Get up!)” They laughed and groaned, pretending to sleep. They kicked their little legs and pulled at las mantas (the blankets) as though fighting to stay asleep. They squinted their eyes as though surprised to see the sun peek through an opening curtain. Until, eventually, they began to anticipate my saying, “Dame la mano. (Give me your hand),” and we marched off to the kitchen to learn some more for breakfast. 

On the first day, they just enjoyed the game. But as the week carried on, “Big Sister” would interrupt our play to ask, “What means [insert Spanish word here]?” and I would do my best to use some Spanish that she already knew or even body language to explain the vocabulary. One day after we had moved onto setting the table for breakfast, Saul interjected with joy, “Are we playing the breakfast game!?!” 

What an incredible difference it was to shift from frustrated, annoyed learners to kiddos who simply thought they were getting extra play time with Mama. We all loved the experience, and we all learned so much in the process. I cannot wait to learn a new “daily routine.” ❤

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