One of the biggest challenges as parents is helping our kids with their homework. First of all, because we’ve already gone through many years of school. Maybe we’re tired of studying so much and helping our kids with homework is like repeating the process we thought we’d finished.
Second, we have many other adult responsibilities, so we must manage our time very well to finish everything. This task becomes even more complicated when we have to help them with homework in a language we don’t know.
This is the case for many parents whose kids are in a school with Spanish classes. How do you help them if you can’t even understand the instructions? If they fail, will it be your fault?
Relax. We know how stressful you might feel, but it’s not the end of the world. You can still help your kids with their Spanish homework even when you don’t know the language.
We’ve got seven tips and tricks for you to do that. You might even end up learning some Spanish along the way!
1. You’re not the student
First of all, remember that it’s their homework, not yours. Many parents make the mistake of doing all the homework by themselves. Though we know it comes from a place of love, it’s not helping anybody.
At the end of the day, the kids are the ones that have to do their homework. It’s the only way they’ll learn the class topic and to take responsibility for their own things.
So don’t get too frustrated if you have to help them with their Spanish homework and you don’t know the language. You can do it, because they are the ones taking the class and paying attention.
So, you’ll only have to guide them a bit. Homework time has to be a parent-kids teamwork.
2. Ask the teacher
If you don’t know Spanish, you need someone to confirm to you what the homework is about. Though your kids can do that, you need someone that knows the language even better to do it.
That way, there’s no room for confusion and you can verify your children are doing the right thing. Who’s better to do that than the teacher?
Don’t be ashamed of asking the teacher. It shows that you truly care for your kids and their education. So much that you’re willing to ask someone that knows more.
3. Let them explain to you
Sit your kids next to you and tell them to explain to you what the homework is about.
If there are specific written instructions, they can read them and translate them to you. It will help them practice their Spanish-English vocabulary skills and how to switch between languages easily.
If they’re not written, they can just explain to you what they have to do. Do they have to learn some vocabulary sheets? Do they have to write an essay? Do they have to read a story or make drawings for each Spanish word?
This will force them to think instead of translating everything literally. Both ways will result in better fluency.
Another benefit is that if they explain their homework, they’ll get to practice their Spanish comprehension. Making you understand what they have to do will help them repeat everything in both languages.
And repetition helps to analyze, reflect on it and truly understand everything.
4. Research some vocabulary
You can research by yourself some basic words and phrases in Spanish to help you understand the language a bit more. They can be verbs or nouns that are related to the school world.
Words like “homework”, “instructions”, “write”, “read”, “pencil”, “draw”, “pen”, “presentation”, “color”, “sheets”, “fill in the blanks”, “listen”, are great. They’ll help you understand a bit more the instructions for your children’s homework.
You could also research a few Spanish words that have something to do with your kids’ assignment. For example, if the teacher told them to write a story about farm animals, you could research some farm animals in Spanish.
Or if they have a “fill in the blanks” exercise, look up the meaning of the words they have to fill in. Or even the meaning of the complete sentences. That way you can help your children if they have a doubt where a word goes.
Or just research Spanish words and phrases about the topic your kids are currently learning in their Spanish lessons. Most likely the homework will be about that topic. For this you must keep up updated with what they learn at school.
So, if they’re learning numbers in Spanish, you could research them too and learn some. Or if they’re learning holidays in Spanish, look up how to say Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and other celebrations in Spanish.
5. Grammar issues? Get a dive on the internet or books!
When your kids first start with their Spanish classes, they might just learn a few words. But as soon as they advance, they’ll start with more complicated topics. This means Spanish grammar will make its appearance.
And it can be tedious and difficult for some. We don’t blame them, as all those rules can get confusing at times, especially if they’re very different to our native language rules.
You could go to your kids’ grammar books, read and try to understand the topic they’re currently learning.
You don’t necessarily have to learn it from your kids’ books, you could use any Spanish grammar book you want. Or, if it’s easier for you, use the internet!
The internet is now a common useful resource to learn anything. But precisely because of its popularity, anyone could write a blog or website about any topic and lie to you.
So you better make sure you’re consulting a truthful page and not a scam. What you can do is look up the grammar topic you’re trying to understand.
Then, read different entries about it to make sure rules and explanations are the same. This way you make sure you learn the right thing.
Want a tip? Don’t try to understand all the grammar of the Spanish language at once. You’ll only get confused or forget about it.
Just like your kids, go little by little, topic by topic. If they’re only learning the present tense right now, then focus on that one.
6. Use the translator carefully
It can happen that you and your children have a very difficult doubt at the moment of doing the homework.
One of those doubts that neither of you can truly figure out no matter how much you think about it. If it’s just a word we recommend you use a dictionary, online or physical.
But we know when it’s a whole phrase or paragraph, it’s not easy nor fast to look up every word in the dictionary. So, you can use an online translator.
But do it carefully and at your own risk. Be conscious that some translators translate literally, and that doesn’t always work out the right way.
Sometimes, sentences have metaphors, so a literal translation won’t clarify the meaning for you. Other times, one word can have different meanings.
And if the translator gives you the wrong meaning for one of the words, the whole sentence will sound weird. Or it will change the sense of everything.
Another thing that could happen is that your text might have an idiom and literal translations of those expressions aren’t useful.
So, whenever you use an online translator, be aware that sometimes they can make mistakes.
The only way to know if the translation is correct is by analyzing the context of the translated sentence/paragraph into the whole text. Or if the teacher corrects you.
7. Read your kids’ notes
Oftentimes, when kids are just learning Spanish, the teacher dictates the class in English, or in their native language. And just the vocabulary that’s been taught is in the target language.
This is: all Spanish topics are explained in the children’s first language. Therefore, the notes that students take are also written in their mother tongue.
If that’s your kids’ case, then you should read their notes, it’ll be helpful for you. Because it’ll be easier for you to read, analyze and understand the topic they’re seeing in class to help with any doubts during homework time.
The Best Way for Your Kids to Learn Spanish
Like we said before, many kids learn Spanish through classes dictated in their native language. But the best way to learn it is through an immersion method, which consists in always speaking in Spanish. So the kids will always learn in a Spanish ambience.
This will help children acquire the language, instead of memorizing it just for the exams and then forget it. Here at TruFluency Kids we specialize in this method.
All of our teachers are native Spanish speakers, who will make sure your kids learn useful stuff. They’ll also check there’s always speaking time in every class, because it’s the best way to achieve Spanish fluency.
We also have games, songs, dancing and even cooking activities in Spanish. These are other ways of creating an immersive Spanish environment.
If this immersion method worries you because you don’t know Spanish and how will you help them with homework? Relax! We invite you to read our blog. There we teach some tips and tricks of the language and vocabulary in Spanish.
So you’ll understand at least the basics of the Spanish language and be more prepared to help your kids.
Oh! And we have flexible schedules, so choose the best one for you and sign up for the next 4-week session. You’ll see your kids become bilingual while having fun!