Both my hubby and I were raised being told that we were only allowed to speak Spanish at home. I am a 1st generation Cuban American, even though my mom only came at 60 days old, and he is 1st generation Honduran American. His parents and my grandparents (who raised me for most of my childhood) wanted to make sure we did not forget our roots. They raised us speaking only Spanish at home and celebrating mostly our native traditions. They would sing us songs from their childhood and cook traditional meals.
Mind you, this did not mean that they chose to speak only Spanish to us because they didn’t have a choice.
My grandparents both spoke perfect English and actually came to the United States already speaking English. My in-laws were not as fortunate, but they started working as soon as they got here and signed up for English classes to learn the language. They were all very clear in that it was our responsibility to learn both languages.
They chose to keep their traditions alive for as long as possible.
They knew that soon we were going to be speaking mostly in English because of school. They hoped that we would grow up to be fluently bilingual, which would help us in our careers, and that we would pass on the special traditions to our kids.
They did amazing! We all speak, read, and write fluently in both English and Spanish. It all started from the values they instilled in us from birth.
My husband and I have tried to keep up the same tradition, but it is so much harder for us at this point. Our brains are wired to speak to each other in English, even though we still speak in Spanish to our parents and grandparents. We said we were going to speak only Spanish at home and we keep forgetting.
With my oldest, Eli, thankfully my grandmother took care of her while I worked. This meant that she was exposed to a large amount of Spanish. Unfortunately, since my grandma passed away, the younger 2, Gabriel and Mila, did not get that advantage. However, the good thing was, I learned from the mistakes by the time I had Mila.
Even though both Eli and Gabriel speak Spanish, they have trouble and speak it with an accent. Gabriel can translate from English to Spanish and back easily. However, when it comes to holding a full conversation, he becomes nervous and gets stuck. This is even after making sure they were in the bilingual program at school since PreK. When Mila was born, I decided we were going to try harder this time and try to correct what we could.
The rule in the house is we speak Spanish at home or in front of Mila. Also, all toys, TV, books, learning, and therapy will all be in Spanish.
I assumed that in Miami, and with so much available online, finding bilingual educational supplies, videos, and toys would be easy. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
After searching for months for bilingual educational supplies and not finding anything I finally gave up the search. I realized that I was going to have to make them from scratch. I put together a toddler binder for her and added a ton of flashcards and activity sheets. Now that I got the hang of it, I even made all 3 kids their virtual learning/homeschooling schedules because, at this point, they were all home thanks to COVID. I talk more about this here,
Thankfully my search for bilingual supplies was not in vain.
I was able to find educational toys, books, and YouTube videos that were bilingual for Mila.
- Smile & Learn – Español
- Plaza Sesamo
- Super Simple Español
- BabyFirst Español
- Books I found
- Animals Animales – Priddy Books
- My Big Box of Spanish Words – Rebecca Emberley (Includes 8 Books)
- The Children’s Trust Book Club (They send me bilingual books by mail for free)
- Books I found
- Learning Friends 100 Words Book
- Learn & Groove Play Drum
- Learn and Groove Shakin’ Colors Maracas
- Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn Toy
- Baby’s Light-Up Laptop
- Laugh & Learn Around the Town Learning Table
- Stroll & Learn Walker Gift Set
- Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank
- Laugh & Learn My Smart Purse
- Busy Learning Tool Bench
- Dance & Groove Rockit
- Baby Alive
- Super Snacks Snackin’ Noodles (Brunette)
- Baby Alive
Speaking only Spanish in our home is still a hassle for us but the rest we have pretty much taken care of, for the most part. TV or any kind of video is in Spanish with very few exceptions, like Frozen 2 sometimes. 90% of electronic toys are bilingual and turned to Spanish mode, even though, she knows how to switch it. 95% of books are either only in Spanish or are bilingual. We also ask our families and their therapists to speak to them in Spanish as often as possible.
After going through all of this on my own, I realized that I cannot be the only mom going through this.
So I decided that I was going to start to make educational printables to help fill in the gap that I discovered. I am going to start with the bilingual educational materials that I made for my daughter.