Multilingual homeschooling #2

A is for apple. That is true in English, mom’s language and dad’s language.
B is for butterfly… but only in English, not in mom’s language and not in dad’s either.

When my older son starting looking at picture-dictionaries we quickly realised that we’re heading for chaos. I could almost see the struggle in his mind: Why is the picture of ice cream on the “E” page when I’m with dad, on the “Y” page when mom reads a book with me, and when I leaf through the book that my friend gave me, it’s on the page with “I”? The picture of a bat is on the “B”, “F” or “V” page, depending on which book you have. But not all words are like this: the gorilla, house, whale, xylophone and others are on the same page on all our books. This world of words just doesn’t make sense!

A plan was needed, and urgently. So on our long drive during the next holiday, the notebook and pencil were ready in the car: we need picture words that start with the same letter in all three “our” languages. All through the week exclamations like “Snake works out!” was the norm in the car. That means S is for Snake – in all our languages. We took it easy, there was a whole week to think up the words, and the subconscious is a wonderful thing!

At the end of the week we had a list of words, including one or two compromised letters (Q and Y being the most notable). Back at home it was time to be creative. Using craft, colouring and picture books to find easy, yet appealing pictures, we soon had pictures to match our trilingual alphabet word list. Using peel off window paint, we transformed the window of our son’s bedroom into an alphabet picture book.

Later we also used the same pictures to make our own home-made alphabet book, which both our sons now use to page through whenever they want to.

Still later these same pictures were used to make our own “Alphabet poster” on a huge cardboard sheet.

These pictures have served their purpose, over and over again. They are used to look at and be enjoyed; they are used to teach the alphabet; they have been used again when teaching handwriting (to have a familiar picture to associate with each letter); they have been used to teach phonics. Everything is still there to be used by our other son, so the time spent once is being used repeatedly.

Sometimes multilingual homeschooling poses challenges, but there always is a plan to be made!

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