In the summer, most kids don’t want to think about or hear the word “school.” They just want to have fun and enjoy the sun, sans their school’s summer vacation packet.
I can relate. Though I loved going to school as a kid, my only desires in the summer were to stay up late and play with my familia and amigas. However, when I returned to school in September my brain was pretty much mush. My second-grade bilingual teacher would ask me a question in Spanish, and all I could remember was, “Que?” A summer of cartoons in English and my strictly English-speaking friends left my prior year’s Spanish vocabulary in the dust.
As a mama, encouraging your hijos and hijas to continue embracing education and the Spanish language, is key, but so is making sure they’re having fun while doing it. Here are 5 summer activities that will keep their Español lessons fresh in their minds:
A Trip to the Motherland
In Latino culture, a summer trip to the motherland was used as punishment. “You’ve behaved badly, so I am shipping you to your abuela!” Mami would say. “But there’s no cable!” I’d holler. It felt like torture, but it doesn’t have to be. Parents can take a family vacation to their ancestors’ homeland to immerse their kids in Español. Personally, all my relatives in the Dominican Republic only speak Spanish. After spending a month or two in the summer playing with my extended family, I’d come back to the States dominating the Spanish language.
Summer Camp en Español
If you usually send your kids away to summer camp, why not go bilingual? Through various fun activities, these camps engage students in the Spanish language. There are plenty to choose from; a quick Google search will lead the way.
Language Scavenger Hunt
If your kids stay at home for the summer, you can create your own Spanish-language fun. One activity that I love in any language is a scavenger hunt. Take your kid(s) to the park and give them a list of items you want them to find: a leaf, a blade of grass, rocks, etc. Make sure the list of words is in Español. When they bring you the items, they must speak to you in Spanish to get a prize chosen by you or them.
I grew up playing tons of Spanish-language games, like El Juego de la Vaca, where kids sit in a circle while singing the song (“El juego de la vaca ya empezó ia ia ohh!”) and slap hands while counting to ten. The one who gets slapped at ten is out! I also played Simon Says in Spanish. Whatever game your child enjoys in English can be translated into Spanish.
When it comes to mastering a language, hearing it is key. That’s why this listening game is so important. Gather your children, nieces, nephews, and friends, and take them to the park. Pair kids up and blindfold one child. Each child then directs his or her partner to a specific area of the park. And, you guessed it, the directions must be en Español!
Enjoy the summer and all its perks while immersing your kids in Spanish. Don’t let the summer heat keep them from their Latino culture!
image: Getty / Susan Chiang