So what have I been up to? How have I begun to create a Spanish environment for little Freddie?
With my older boys, they were born so close together that I could almost treat them as twins. When my eldest was about a year old, I began to speak to him only in Spanish (as did my husband) as a default language. We would change to English when we were socializing with English speakers. This continued until the boys were about 4 years old and we had to prepare them for Kindergarten entrance exams. I switched over to English, and my husband continued to speak to them in Spanish.
As the boys have grown, more and more of their friends and schoolmates do not speak Spanish. Even though they attend Spanish school Wednesday evenings and communicate with their father and abuelos in Spanish, it has gotten more difficult to keep the minority language going.
I want this to be easier for Freddie.
Lucky for me, this kid is a talker.
Lucky for me, this kid has two big brothers who adore him and love teaching him.
The following is a (very) basic roadmap as to how we have been introducing two languages to Freddie:
** From birth to age 2, the entire family exclusively spoke to him in Spanish. We sang songs in Spanish, read books (sometimes doing a spontaneous translation) in Spanish, watched videos from time to time in Spanish (he loved "Little Baby Bum").
** At around 2 years old (he is 2.5 now), my boys and I started to speak English to him about 50% of the time. We introduced English stories and songs, but kept the Spanish favorites. We introduced the older brothers' favorite "Cantajuegos" and "Pocoyo", but also "Mr. Rogers" and "Llama llama". We made playdates with both English and Spanish speaking friends. We create rituals and daily rhythms (before nap time I tell him a story in English, but before bedtime the story is in Spanish) in both languages.
** Every weekend, the abuelos and my boys have a video conference over the iPad for about 30 minutes to tell them about their week. We also make it a priority to visit for 3-4 weeks every summer.
As far as special language materials go, at this stage, there are none to buy except books and music. We have a lot of these from when the older children were young and we try to use the local library. Our challenge is finding authentic and original (not translated from English) materials. I find that we often need to wait for our summer trip to Spain to buy these for the following year.
Freddie is really into imaginary play with cars, stuffed animals, and puppets, and that can be done in both English and Spanish. Art projects can be done in both languages. We go for walks and explore.
He is just beginning to be interested in "school" and sitting long enough to create something. I am looking forward to guiding him in both languages and sharing my ideas with you!