For teachers, educating the United States’ rapidly growing population of dual language learners is a challenge, but also an opportunity to implement new inclusive practices in their classrooms. However, for parents, bilingual parenting might not be as simple as the experiences teachers have with fostering bilingual children in their classrooms.
With communication emerging as one of the most crucial parts of a child’s development, it’s no wonder there are numerous benefits to learning more than one language from birth. Jennifer Chen’s Connecting Right from the Start, is a great resource for teachers approaching dual language learners in their classrooms, but can also be used by parents to gain a better understanding of how to raise a bilingual child. In it, Chen says that “during the early childhood years, children acquire the language and other essential tools to effectively communicate their intentions, ideas, and feelings,” children who gain these skills and are more socially competent “tend to academically outperform their peers who are not.” Whether English is your child’s first language or they use their home language more often, fostering their ability to communicate effectively is very important.
Here are some ways you can support bilingual education at home!
- Communicate with your child’s teacher if concerned that your child is falling behind or not able to effectively communicate because they are a dual language learner.
- Assist with your child’s homework to encourage their bilingualism.
- Engage in activities and projects with your child, completing them together at home.
- Implement community sources for dual language learners.
- Make your home an encouraging environment conducive to student learning and achievement.