It’s time to get back into a routine, as we all know that kids and grown-ups alike benefit from a regular and predictable daily routine! While the classes at Atlas are all getting into the swing of things with their classroom routines and fresh school supplies, we thought you might enjoy adding a couple of these language-boosting ideas to your at-home daily routines!
Make Screen Time Count!
Rather than plugging into a YouTube video while waiting for dinner to arrive at a restaurant, why not try one of the myriad language learning apps available on phones and tablet? Apps have come a long way, and not all are created equally! Be sure to limit your child’s time by using a timer or some easy-to-track way, so there are no surprises when the inevitable moment of powering down arrives (we all know how powerful those tantrums can be!)
Some of our favorite apps for the youngest learners include the following:
- Gus on the Go! Available in French, Spanish, and several other languages, Gus on the Go is fun for older toddlers through the Pre-K. It’s not necessary to be able to read for this simple app, which incorporates vocabulary, slow-moving images of animals and other kid-friendly objects and games into the learning. Cost is $3.99.
- Syllabique Available in French, this fun app allows your Preschool or Early Elementary child to get a grasp on their phonemic awareness in French. Combining games with letter sounds and letter blends, those kids with enough familiarity of French vocabulary will be able to pick up letter sounds, blends, and hopefully be on their way to becoming readers in French! Cost is $3.99.
- Pacca Alpaca This is more of a play-based app that allows younger learners to engage with the language chosen (French and Spanish are both available, in addition to many others) without feeling like it’s really “learning”. Songs and short videos are just part of what sets this app apart, in addition to the native voices being those of children as opposed to adults. Cost is $0.99.
No time to read a book just right now? Consider offering your child a Lunii Story Teller, in French, Spanish, or English!
If you’re trying to limit screen time, but don’t always have the lap and undivided attention your child craves, the Lunii Storyteller adds another option for the story-seeker. In this unique audio-book style device, perfectly adapted and sturdy for kids ages 3 and up, your child can control the character of the story, the plot twists and turns, and the setting from a variety of options. Each Lunii storyteller comes with some pre-loaded stories, and you can add more books through the online store. The Lunii offers a unique and wonderful way to let a pre-literate child get native-speaking language input, as well as an introduction to both well-known and less known stories. Let your child’s imagination soar with this choose-your-own-adventure style device that replaces some of the screens in their little lives. https://lunii.com/
p.s. In our experience, the fancy headphones are not necessary, although we’re sure they’re nice.
In-person Story Time:)
Undoubtedly the best way to spend story time, we must of course encourage all our parents and caregivers to borrow, purchase or otherwise procure real books, read by real people, and snuggle up for a bedtime (or anytime!) story! Even if you don’t speak French or Spanish, rest assured that you are boosting your child’s language learning and brain development when you read to them in your native language! If you are, however, interested in getting your hands on some French or Spanish language books, consider simplifying your life by ordering books through Atlas! Get books at school, either through monthly Scholastic book orders (Scholastic Canada Clubs de Lecture-French, or Scholastic Club Leo- Spanish), or by subscribing to a 10-month pre-order of French books through Ecole des Loisirs.
We are lucky in the greater Portland area to also have access to Powell’s Books, one of the best spots to score both new and used books in French or Spanish. Be sure to visit the Foreign Language sections of all locations (downtown is biggest), rather than going to the children’s area. With so many immersion elementary schools in the area, many parents take their gently used early childhood books to Powell’s! Check it out!
Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, you can find quite a few Spanish and French language books through Amazon. Although you won’t be able to use your American Prime subscription for cheaper shipping on international Amazon sites, sometimes it still pencils out to order those less common, perhaps more “authentic” early childhood titles from international sites such as Amazon.fr. Spanish titles are easier to find on the US Amazon site, but even so, we encourage you to poke around and let us know if you find more selection elsewhere!
Happy reading this fall with your little ones! We hope these ideas help refresh your story time and language learning routines at home this fall, and help your child reap all the benefits that come with early foreign language exposure!
Bonne lecture! Feliz Lectura!