Teaching your child a second language at home can be a powerful educational tool for little ones. Children who grow up learning a second language often have increased cognitive capabilities, more confidence and perform better in school. However, for busy parents, it can be difficult to find time during the day to consistently make time for practicing a second language. This is why many parents find it beneficial to incorporate language learning time into their child’s bedtime routine.
A set bedtime routine is a great way to set the mood and help kids realize that it’s time to wind down before they go to sleep. Parents can use this quiet time to bond and create quality time with their little ones. We love this time of evening not only for bonding but also for language learning as children are often excited to conduct their bedtime activities and share this special moment with their parents. Here are some of our favorite ways to add language learning to your child’s bedtime routine.
Make bedtime only for the target language
Whatever your target language is, designating bedtime as the time to practice it is a great way to set aside time in your day for language practice and exposure. If you are trying to teach your English-speaking child Spanish as their second language, for instance, then consider making bedtime “Spanish time.” Speak to your child in Spanish as they brush their teeth, get in their pajamas and get ready for sleep, always starting a dialogue and introducing new vocabulary words that you can practice each time. It may only be a few minutes per night, but any exposure is good exposure! Even if your child can’t yet speak the secondary language, it’s an important first step in exposing them to this language.
Encourage your child to showcase their vocabulary
As your child slowly learns to speak in the target language, make bedtime a time for your child to showcase what they have learned. Bedtime is a fun opportunity to allow your little one to put their new language skills to use as you converse with each other, asking questions and commenting. Something as simple as discussing your little one’s printed Gerber Childrenswear Softest Edit Snug Fit Footed Pajamas or pointing to different objects and saying their names, like the toys in a room or soap and bubbles in the bathroom, or even looking at and describing the stars and sky outside the window can help encourage your child to practice the words they have learned. By engaging in conversation, the goal is that your little one will eventually learn and repeat new vocabulary and build the confidence to speak the target language more and more.
Read, read, read
Many parents choose to read to their children before bed. They also use this time to take advantage of the many benefits of reading, but what they may not realize is that language practice is another benefit you can add to the list if you choose to read in the target language. Reading Spanish or bilingual books at night can help squeeze in language-learning time while also having fun and bonding as you discuss the images, sounds, characters or plot in a book. Keep in mind that it’s important to start a dialogue beyond the words written in the book. There are endless opportunities to initiate stimulating conversations by using the images or sounds in a book that can help introduce new vocabulary words in an exciting way. As your child gets older and becomes more confident in their reading and speaking abilities, they can even start reading back to you!
Using bedtime to focus on your target language creates a positive association between the language that you want your child to learn and this special bonding time with your child. If you’re already setting aside time for this bedtime routine, why not add in some evening language learning to the mix to make it even more special? This is one of the easiest ways to make sure that you’re setting aside dedicated time for language learning without having to make time for it in your busy schedule. Consistency, repetition and exposure are all key in helping any child learn a second language —this is a simple, easy-to-remember way to make sure it’s part of your child’s daily routine. Plus, it’s never too early (or too late) to start, so you can begin switching up your bedtime routine now in an effort to help make learning a second language fun for your child!
This blog series is powered by Binibi, an education company dedicated to promoting bilingualism at the earliest ages. Binibi makes bilingual sound books for children ages 0-5 that are designed for parents to have a fun and easy way to introduce a second language at home, from day one. Binibi is dedicated to creating reading experiences that are both entertaining and educational, and to encouraging parents and caregivers to spend time with their babies through reading together. Binibi seeks to promote language development in children and to encourage families to raise bilingual children.