Our family classes are a combination of routine and new activities. Once you’ve come to class a few times, you and your budding adventurer will soon become familiar with our Hola and Adios songs, along with many of our other routine songs and gross motor activities.

Predictable structure, along with familiar songs and activities, provide comfort and confidence for our adventurers so they’ll be able to bloom. And we always introduce fresh material, so there is always something new to learn and practice! 

At the beginning of each session, we email a song sheet to the families with our routine songs. You’ll also receive a companion guide about every three classes that includes the vocabulary and visuals for the current theme (weather, colors, daily routines, animals, etc). 

This is a class for toddlers. (And not little robots that will bend to our rules!)

That means that your child (or someone else’s child) might sometimes wander. And that’s ok! Children sometimes need to take a break and move around a bit (just like us adults!). And even though it may look like your child isn’t paying attention, she’s still soaking it all in. You are your child’s best role model, so please continue to participate (she’ll notice!). If she’s taking a little longer than usual, feel free to encourage her to join us again. But please don’t insist too much (that can backfire!). More than likely she’ll choose to join us again once she’s ready. And the more classes you attend, the more she’ll get used to the routine, and be able to participate for longer periods of time.

You’ll notice that we use a few ASL signs in class. These help elicit Spanish without having to say, “Say ‘gracias,’” for example. Since we use signs with words that we say often, signing those words becomes second nature. Some of these signs include please, thank you, stop, want, walk, march, jump…

And oftentimes, before they’re ready to speak a word in Spanish, they’ll first use the sign – and then when they’re ready… they’ll say the word, too!  It really is a powerful technique! 

Finally, we like to use what we call “the 5 second rule” in class.  This just means that you wait 5 (looong) seconds before you respond on behalf of your child. This might seem awkward at first… and if she’s been in class for a few weeks already, we know that she probably knows how to respond. (Often times parents tell me that their children use these words at home already!)

But sometimes our budding adventurers are a little shy to speak out in class, or they’re just not ready… and that’s ok! Sometimes they just need those 5 seconds to respond without any pressure before they’re willing/able to produce the response. If you jump in and answer for them, “Say pelota por favor, say pelota por favor,” then they’re less likely to respond on their own later and without prompting. If after 5 seconds they’re still not responding, then feel free to jump in and respond for them.

They’ll start responding on their own time when they’re ready. But in the meantime – you’re being a great model for them (along with the other children and parents in the class). 

Can’t wait to see you in class!! 

About Jessica Swartz Amezcua

After spending a semester in college in Mexico perfecting her Spanish language skills and falling deeply in love with the culture, Jessica Swarz Amezcua now loves sharing the language and culture with children through play. She's is a co-owner of Portland Early Learning.

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