May 18

Teaching Responsibility Without "Training Wheels"

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

What do you do when your child is NOT turning in their homework on time, or not at all? What if you feel, as "Super Parent," that they are not doing the assignments "to their fullest potential?" Do you do it for them? Hover over them and point out how, concretely, to make it "better?" Let's examine.

Several weeks ago, I coincided with Jackie Sanin, the Founder of Jump! Immersion, on a Saturday afternoon at Jump!. As a parent, I had had a bit of a rough week, stressing out over the lack of enthusiasm I witnessed in my child to finish her book report/project. Even worse, she had missed some math homework… a first in this household. What was going on here?

I lamented this state of affairs with Jackie. Right away, she looked me straight in the eyes, and said, "You must it let it go; let her stand on her own two feet and FAIL." We have a friendly relationship, so she could be this direct. I felt like I had been punched in the chest; let my baby F-A-I-L? This goes against my cultural underpinnings and personal philosophy. What was Jackie saying?

Turns out, she was right. She explained that, in her experience as a parent, she had had some difficulty with her child turning in homework around 2nd or 3rd Grade.

She Took the Training Wheels Off

She told her child, in a calm and loving way that she had to budget time for the project. If she did not do this, the assignment would not be complete. "Mom" was not going to bail her out and do shuttle diplomacy or ask for leniency from the teacher. "Child" was going to have to speak to the teacher and state, matter of factly, that the work was not complete and give no excuses.

Fast-forward a few days in the Sanin Household...

The homework was not completed and Child had to go the teacher and state her case. Child was mortified; she learned her lesson with that emotionally stinging confession, in front of her peers.

I digested this information. Let my darling child get a bad grade in school? Sigh. Alright; I'm ready for the experiment.

I sat down with my child and calmly told her what my expectations were for this assignment. I advised her to budget her time. Consequently, she did not. The night before the assignment was due I emailed the teacher and advised her of my child's incomplete report and my stance. Teacher was ready to greet her the following day. My child had to present what she had, and explain to the teacher what was incomplete and why. Her teacher spoke to her about her own expectations, and we reviewed all this at home the following night. I think my daughter "got it." She is growing up and needs to follow the steps to finish her work on time. Good choices, good consequences. "Bad" choices, other consequences.

Teaching About Choices & Consequences

We all can agree that this was a "teachable moment."  Not an easy one, no "aha moment", but one that required reflection. This is something that I learned in smaller instances, with the teachers at Jump! Immersion. Children are not "punished." They are given the opportunity to reflect in a calm setting on the choices they’ve made that have impacted their classmates: A toy that was snatched. A hurtful word. All typical preschool and elementary moments.

The teachers keep a watchful eye on the class and individual dynamics, and step in to guide the child/ren to a meaningful understanding of their actions and the repercussions. It is truly amazing to watch.

As a parent, I sometimes don't feel as if I have this moment in time to stop, assess and reflect. It does us all good... Too bad that I can't fling this blog post to the person who cut me off on the Garden State Parkway yesterday...

May 08

Using the Local Language While Abroad

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

In the quest to "open the minds" of my elementary school-aged children who continue to study Spanish, I decided to throw my bathing suit to the wind and travel North to Montréal during Easter break. My husband thought I should visit a psychiatrist. My rationale was to show my children the importance of speaking more than one language; that it is useful, no matter where you go. Montréal was within driving distance and we own a cargo box for the car, so I updated my packing lists and off we went! (Many reviews on Trip Advisor spoke highly about "Le Square Phillips" which is an apart-hotel. We all loved it!)

Now, you may be asking me, "Does anyone in your family unit speak French?" My response: "Why, yes. Proficiently... moi!" Husband also speaks a small amount, but kids knew nothing. So we prepared them with the absolute basics:

  • Merci = Thank you
  • Bonjour = Good day or a generic "Hello"
  • S'il vous plait = Please
    *We also reminded them very seriously to stay close, and gave them the hotel business card and our cell phone numbers written down for their pockets/purses.

"Perfect Mom" would have run out to the local library or big box store for French language learning DVDs, but I am not "Perfect Mom."

Québec province is truly dedicated to keeping French alive. However, it respects English. Case in point: museum presentations were given in both languages. Now, during this trip, I was the main communicator and translator. I must confess, my French was rusty. But I wanted to show my children that you always try, and that you must be ready to laugh at yourself whenever learning something new.

Use Every Opportunity to Practice!

After checking in, the moment I walked into the room, I assessed the bath towel scene. We needed one more. Now, occasionally, when I search for a word in French, I consider the Spanish word for any clues, as they are both Romance Languages. If I succeed, I can "slide" into the French word. Back to the snippet about the missing towel. I called the Reception rather confidently, and began to ask for an extra towel. The word eluded me completely; I blanked out. I started to feel the flutterings of anxiety, with the inner monologue: "How could I possibly forget such a simple word like 'towel?'" I hemmed and hawed. The receptionist asked if I wanted to speak in English. (Only in Montréal this would occur! Never in France.)

Instead of caving in, I trudged on in French: "No, no, I want to practice my French. How do you say 'towel' in French? We need an additional one."

She graciously reminded me: "une serviette." I repeated the full sentence in French. Hung up the phone, calmed myself, and smiled.

Of course! In Spanish, a towel is "una toalla." And in Spanish, a napkin is "una servieta." Light bulb moment, words newly engraved in my mind. Note to self:

Do... NOT... give up!

I was not so bold an hour later, when my husband tasked me to order takeout pizza--we had arrived on Easter Sunday and had missed the working hours of the closest supermarket (an "IGA" in the main level of the Complexe Desjardins on the Blvd René Lévesque). The gentleman on the phone was so darn nice that I just rattled off in English what we wanted. I felt embarrassed. Looking back, I made myself anxious because I believed the operator would be in a hurry. Wrong attitude.



As the days passed, I continued trying to speak French. The Montréalais do a fine job of "juggling" both French and English. Any time I hesitated to find a word, they were quick to ask in English: "Do you wish to speak in English?" After the takeout incident, I persisted. We visited museums, took the Métro [subway] and the bus, bought souvenirs, lunch, groceries, and I even visited a pharmacy. Now that was an experience--telling your ailments to a pharmacist! But I did it, and she actually complimented me. She said that very few Americans spoke French so fluidly.

The More You Use It...

Lesson learned: the more I spoke, the more confident I became in French. Why is the United States such a mono-lingual stronghold? My children were tacitly impressed with my "skills."
They made the connection: It takes time to become fluent in another language and the more you use it, the better you speak it.

Jump! Immersion School continues to buck the stereotypes of learning another language (the second, or third?) with preschoolers and elementary-aged students. We are the trendsetters. Children can start as young as 2½ years old and classes are available through 12 years of age, for Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. This is not your stodgy language class of years ago; the children are immersed, with fun activities, in a broad spectrum of subject matter, to get them talking, playing, running, dancing, all when they are ready to take that linguistic risk. Imagine speaking effortlessly, no mental "switching" necessary? How about speaking without an American accent, and sounding "like a native?" Yes and yes!

To conclude my linguistic travel story, you may want to know how the children fared: The younger one took the 3 new words like a fish to water. The older one was in a state of shock on the first 2 days. This was the first trip that she did not speak the local language and she had moments of frustration. I gave her my personal tip to try to "slide into French" and she did her best. Overall, the family enjoyed themselves thoroughly and we have vowed to return in the summertime, with warmer weather and longer days. There are so many parks to explore!

Consider the following: If your family is planning to vacation/move abroad, why not take advantage of Jump! Immersion School and get the kids ready? As our Founder, Jackie Sanin, likes to say, "the more you go, the more you'll know."

May 01

Printable Mandarin Fruits & Veggies Placemat

Today is Labor Day in China. This day celebrates all workers who have contributed to Chinese progress. As the Chinese will be taking the week off to go on outings, picnic, etc., food will play a central role. Here are some "basic" fruits and vegetables to get your child learning new words in Mandarin.

Enjoy!



Please be sure to print on regular (8x11) paper
for best results.

Download Printable Placemat

Be sure to get our Printable Chinese Zodiac Placemat and our Printable Spanish A-Z: Alphabet Placemat too!

Apr 29

Feria de Sevilla ("Seville Fair")

sponsored by the Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre

  • Where: Parker Press Park, 428 Rahway Ave, Woodbridge, NJ
  • When: Sunday, May 3rd, 2015, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
    (Rain date May 9th, same time)
  • Admission: FREE!

"The history (both past and living) of flamenco is unclear. Many scholars cite South Asian (i.e.) Indian dance, gypsy dance, with threads of Caribbean and jazz influences woven in. It is a passionate form of expression; serious dancers search for "duende" or the spirit within us, to bring out the fiery aspects of the dance. There are also European influences, such as ballet, to pick out. Come judge for yourself!"

This day promises to be an afternoon of cultural delights. The "Feria" will provide performances by Alborada's widely-acclaimed professional dancers and musicians throughout the afternoon. "Sevillanas" dancing throughout the park by dancers in traditional costumes, arts & crafts for children, flamenco dance and castanet lessons, a flamenco fashion show, artists creating works "en plein air" inspired by the dancers and the outdoor festival, Spanish food and drink for sale, and much more.

Irish step dancing is another variation or permutation of flamenco, in this author's humble opinion. Riverdance, anyone?

Jump! Immersion School will be participating at the fair. Come say hello! (or "ole! ")

Apr 23

Connections Across Cultures: Qingming Festival

China and the Chinese celebrated the Qingming Festival this year on Sunday, April 5th. This date marked an important point—a "seasonal division point"—the precise moment that suggests the sun's position. (As a lunisolar calendar system, the festival date can vary slightly from April 4th to 6th.) Traditionally, farmers used this system to help them plant and harvest during the most auspicious times. Additionally, religious and medical advocates also used this knowledge to advise on matters ranging from health to food intake, activities, etc. To me, a simple city-dweller, this sounds roughly like a Farmer's Almanac on "turbo drive."

Today, these "seasonal division points" are considered common knowledge in the Chinese psyche. For outsiders and foreigners, enjoy the meaningful titles: Qingming means "Clear and Bright" or "Pure Brightness." Who cannot support a festival of "clear and bright?"

What Happens During Qingming Festival?

Some traveling, some food and light exercise. Sounds like a great day to me! Pre-shopping necessary. Let's explore from our armchairs.

1. Remembering Your Ancestors & Sweeping their Final Resting Place

In order to minimize work disruptions, the Qingming Festival became a national holiday in China in 2008. Many individuals traveled home to the countryside to visit their ancestors' graves and before 2008 many people would simply take the days off of work surrounding that time. (See another instance of traveling home for a Chinese holiday».)

For those who live near or in the countryside, the day can begin with a trip to the cemetery, mausoleum or columbarium (tall building that houses niches with individual boxes of cremated ashes). Having land in China costs a fortune, so authorities prefer (rather, mandate) cremation for population control. However, one can always find exceptions to this rule with a little (or a lot) of cash in hand. The whole family is encouraged to go to the cemetery, including young children. This is part of the cycle of life that needs to be witnessed, no matter your age.

For those who live in a metropolitan city like Shanghai (population 14+ million)—which is another "melting pot" of domestic immigration—a family might just have a small "altar" on a table in their home or some other commemorative place. Or maybe just a photograph of their special ancestor hung on the wall (again, every centimeter counts in city apartments!)

What do you do?

Give the area a cleaning, burn some incense. Put out some of the deceased family member's favorite food, served cold... it can be meat (such as pork, amply found in China), fruit, etc. Say a prayer, or have a commemorative moment.

"We toast to you, Grandmother, and wish you well. This past year we have accomplished A, B and C and have been challenged with X, Y and Z. We hope this new year will be healthy and prosperous."

The cleansing and/or the toast is made with a strong white rice wine. And no sips allowed here, as that would be construed as disrespectful or lacking seriousness. Toasts in China are culturally diverse and intricate: what you say, where, and to whom depends on the occasion.

What do you wear?

It’s appropriate to wear black, white, yellow, or any somber color. Avoid the color red and other bright colors.

Additional offerings?

Only one particular flower is traditionally used for this day of remembering the dead: the Chrysanthemum. Note to self: do not give a mixed bouquet containing Chrysanthemums to my child's Mandarin teacher… I might be giving mixed messages!

Every Chinese knows the poem by Du Mu, a Tang Dynasty writer. The poem tells of a sad scene in early April:

"It drizzles endlessly during the rainy season in spring.
Travelers along the road look gloomy and miserable.
When I ask a shepherd boy where I can find a tavern,
He points at a distant hamlet nestled amidst apricot blossoms."

If you do brave the traffic and make it to the cemetery, after the cleansing and toasting, most people will take the food with them on their next stop: a park, field, etc. Best not to tempt feral animals with your delicacies.

2. No Cooking Over a Stove - Eat Cold Dishes

This aspect of cold culinary dishes actually began as a separate feast, the Hanshi Festival. It used to take place the day before Qingming, however the festivals were eventually combined. The cold food that is served is "Grandmother's" favorite. There is a very interesting legend behind the "cold food," the legend of Jie Zhitui. Although the details are for mature audiences, the story centers on the core principles of devotion, respect, tolerance and humility. What would one man do for his king, what amount of sacrifice? See here for more details»

You may have noticed that certain foods are tied to specific festivals. No? Take a look at this:

Autumn Moon Festival Moon cakes
Dragon Boat Festival Zong zi (pyramid shaped rice with fillings wrapped in reed or bamboo.
Chinese New Year In Shanghai (the South), glutinous rice balls called Tang tuan. In the North, dumplings.
Qingming Festival More glutinous rice, dyed with green vegetable juice and stuffed withsweet bean paste.In Shanghai, called Qing Tuan.Traditionally, shaped like a ball. See picture below!

These green ball-shaped delicacies can be filled with savory items, such as vegetables or meat, if one dislikes the traditional slightly sweet staple. After over 10 years of searching in the greater NYC area, my Shanghainese friend has not had any luck finding these. Does anyone know of any authentic eateries?



3. Spring Outings/Promenades or an Afternoon in the Park

If people can get to the countryside, a field, or perhaps to a local park, families will want to partake in a leisurely stroll. Sportier types may want to conquer nearby hills with a hike. Children run around, ride bicycles, all that is normal for little ones to do. Families will likely have a simple picnic (again, with cold food only), perhaps fly a kite, etc.

People want to enjoy the fresh air, warmer temperatures, the new greenery and flowering buds on trees. Life brims with hope.

I do believe this concept of spring picnics crosses borders. How about Georges Seurat's pointilliste masterpiece: "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte?"

4. Release a Lighted Lantern or "Floating Luminary"

Whatever you want to call these Sky Lanterns, they are beautiful. A string of little candles is secured to the base of the lantern and released to the heavens. Many say they look like shining stars. In Mandarin, the translation of these night-time floating lanterns is: God's lantern [shén dēng].

Even Rapunzel in the Disney movie "Tangled" must have had an inkling about this».

5. Plant a Tree

For those with a "green thumb" or who are environmentally conscious, the Qingming Festival is also a time to plant saplings. This point in time increases the chances of a healthy tree, strong and tall. Any young tree/sapling will do. You would see this primarily in the countryside where landowners have earth to plow. In the past, Qingming Festival was also called "Arbor Day," however, the Chinese Government also created an official holiday in 1979 for planting trees: March 12th.

Building Bridges & Making Connections

Many of the same beliefs and traditions of the Chinese Qingming Festival are celebrated in other cultures in various ways. Consider:

    Pictured: Day of the Dead altar, image credit to http://www.mingei.org/about/news/1003

  • Spring Equinox in the West
    This begins to remind me of the Spring Equinox, which for the West, fell on Friday, March 20th, signaling the official beginning of spring.

  • Persia and Nowruz (or No rooz)
    This also reminds me of a dear Iranian-American family (by way of Wisconsin and Tehran) who celebrate Nowruz, which is a celebration of the Spring Equinox and New Year. Same general time: around March 21st. This wonderful celebration has a spring cleaning component, and is accompanied by special food and other items (that range from a hand mirror to a hyacinth plant to a small bowl with goldfish and much more).

    * Note: the last Tuesday of their Old Year is commemorated with a jump over a fire to drive out the cold and "paleness" of winter and welcome the Spring, heat and light. I remember participating in a jump over a small fire (created in a disposable aluminum brownie pan) one evening, sparks flying...and then I was regaled with a night-time view of the stars through a jumbo telescope. What a gift to be able to take a few moments to gaze at the constellations and pick out figures like the Big Dipper and Orion the Hunter...

    This entire celebration radiates symbolism and mysticism. For a beginning conversation on this holiday, see Wikipedia and then I would advise to continue the conversation with any Iranian acquaintances for further fine-tuning.

  • Spring Cleaning and the U.S.
    Even non-believers, at least in the Northern U.S., have a general "spring cleaning" of closets, the house, the garage. Et voila--we are all linked together.

  • Day of the Dead and Mexico
    And, as for remembering the dead, and celebrating their life, embracing this cycle, who can forget the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico? It is common to have/create "altars" for the dearly departed. Read more here to get a general sense of this holiday.

At Jump! Immersion School, the administration and teaching staff continually cultivate an openness and respect for other cultures at all levels. Teachers make connections every day, tying in prior topics, nurturing critical thinking and highlighting similarities and differences amongst us. They approach subjects from different angles and encourage thinking "outside the box" in new and creative ways. Children may say, from time to time, the "darndest things," but we like it that way.

Enjoy the Spring that has arrived; forsythias are blooming, along with daffodils! Spring is in the Air.

Apr 17

Motivating Your Kids to Do Things On Their Own

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio
Source: Karol Molina

I have little children. And, as they grow and mature, they spontaneously make up their own minds...which sometimes do not follow my own ideas. (Raise your hand if this has happened to you!) My friend, Karol Molina, the Program Director at Jump Immersion, has shared the following theory with me, the "Theory of the Coin."

"Theory of the Coin" At a glance

Plastic Gold Coins
  • Who: Ages 4 and up, roughly.

  • What: Pick 2-4 areas that your child needs reinforcement on.

  • How: Using positive reinforcement with direct & clear instruction.

  • Why: The goal is to get your child to do what you want...without a reward system ad finitum.

  • How long: Just a few short weeks.

The intent is to start working on an area of weakness or a certain objective. The difference with this Theory of the Coin, is that when you achieve the goal, you stop, or better stated, taper off, the experiment. Otherwise stated, you do not want the goal linked to the assistance/tangible encouragement. Some might call it bribery, I choose to call it "encouragement."

Depending on your child, the whole experiment may take 1 month (or more, if the child is older), for a few specific areas that you would like to see some improvement in. Then, sporadically and spontaneously, you will reinforce the behavior. For example:

"Maggie, these last two weeks, you have not needed any help in completing your homework; you are completing your tasks; following instructions the first time stated and I am noticing this. You did a great job. Here is a reward, because I have seen your good choices!"

[Parent is observing, from a silent distance, while the child is self-policing her actions.]

Read on for a more in-depth explanation.

Getting Down to Brass Tacks--the How

1. Make Some Coin!

The parent will gather/buy/make some "coins." They can be large plastic gold coins, home-made wampum, or perhaps one dollar coins or quarters. Karol has used the plastic gold ones. The monetary value is not what is key; the significance given to the coin will be the key.

2. Trading

What, Dear Parent, are we trading these mythical gold coins for? Pick 3-4 areas that you know your child is attracted to. "Maggie," a 10 year old, could be attracted to Minecraft gaming, extra reading (but only if this is a true passion, otherwise, with a reluctant reader, this will backfire miserably), roller skating, etc. As the parent, you know the best areas that captivate your child. Like bees to honey...

3. The Written Reminder for the Fridge (or Signage)

A. The Trade

Parent, list a few items/areas to work on. This is not the time to "kitchen sink" it.

Some examples could be:

  • Put clothes either in the hamper or folded in drawers [not "clean your room"],
  • Make your bed,
  • Brush your teeth (if your child is prone to cavities or is a reluctant tooth brusher),
  • 20 minutes of focused homework,
  • 20 minutes of independent piano practice, focused,
  • No talking back
  • Listening to Parent the first time
Child doing homweork

It may be a good moment to include some examples of desired/undesired behavior, particularly if you have a little lawyer-in-training in your household. For example," it is good to ask questions to clarify any instructions from Mom & Dad, but if you are asking questions to procrastinate or weasel out of a chore, this is not the goal." I have heard one child say, "Dad, you just said to 'put your clothes away,' not 'take your clothes to your room and put them in your drawers.'" See what I mean? Be clear and direct.

If your child is 4 or 5 years old, they are not reading full sentences, so you may need to use some images or "clip art" to get the point across.

What is essential is to be clear and direct, for the ears of a small child/tween.

For example:

Mom or Dad Says Child Hears Meeting of the Minds?

"Behave & listen"

Wah Wah Wah (said in the voice of the teacher of Charlie Brown) No
"Pick up your shoes &
put in your closet"
"Pick up Shoes & Put in Closet" YES!
"Do your Spanish homework
to get ahead in life"
Wah Wah Wah No
"Do your homework with a 'happy face'" [meaning a positive attitude] "Do my Homework with a Happy Face" YES!

Furthermore, the child should be able to verbalize the desired behavior. This will come into play in a short while.

B. Frequency of the Reward/Recompense

The adult decides the frequency. It should never be daily. Depending on the child's age and maturity, it could be 1x a week, or 1x every two weeks. A four year old cannot sustain this type of good behavior for 2 weeks; she will forget what she is supposed to do. On the other hand, one week may be the "just right" amount, with recognition of daily progress to keep the child on task.

C. The Coin

One coin = one reward. After the desired amount of time has passed, with the desired behavior followed. Scenario: "Maggie" has done her homework daily, for 20 minutes of focused work, right away, without procrastinating. The script could follow this:

  • MOM: "Maggie, I am taking out & giving you one coin because of your good behavior. What good behavior am I talking about?"

  • MAGGIE: "Mom, doing my homework right away, focused."
    [The child has linked the desired behavior with her concrete behavior.]

  • MOM: "Maggie, you listed 3 favorite things: an extra hour of Minecraft, an extra 30 minutes of reading before bedtime, and a pack of Pokemon cards. Which will you choose in exchange for the coin?"

  • MAGGIE: "Oooooh, such a hard decision...Minecraft!"

Another scenario could revolve around tooth brushing:

  • MOM: "Katherine, I am taking out and giving you one coin because of your good behavior. What good behavior am I talking about?"

  • KATHERINE: "Mom, brushing my teeth in the morning and at night."

  • MOM: "And you have done this for 5 days without any reminders." Katherine, you listed 3 favorite things, a Barbie doll, some colorful washi tape, and some nail polish. Which will you choose in exchange for the coin?"

  • KATHERINE: "Oooooh, such a hard decision...the nail polish!"

D. Next Steps: Lengthen the Timeframe when Successful

If your four year old put his blanket on his bed for 3 days straight...then lengthen the next timeframe to 6 days. If your six year old brushed her teeth for one week, then lengthen it to two weeks. If your ten year old did her homework for two weeks, then lengthen the timeframe to three weeks. You tell the child of this permutation, and remind them of the "coin" [a/k/a the secret goal.] The lengthening of the frequency will depend on when your child "conquers" the task.

E. The Twist: Surprise them Early!

So, little Katherine has brushed her teeth successfully, day and night, from 5 days to 2 weeks and she's working on the third cycle. Here is where you "blow their minds." Before the end of the third cycle, you give them the coin early.

  • MOM: "Katherine, you have done so well, brushing your teeth day and night, without any reminders...I am giving you the coin EARLY in recognition of your hard work. I am proud of you and your hard work." [Remind them you are proud of their efforts!]

  • KATHERINE: "What?" Oh, THANK YOU, Momma!"

Why is the Parent giving the Coin early? For two main reasons: (a) more concretely, to avoid a relapse given the longer timeframe; and (b) more abstractly, to show the child that she is being observed constantly... and yet, she is choosing to engage in this positive behavior while she thinks she is unobserved.

Three Important Lessons

Does this all sound sneaky? Perhaps but you are teaching your child important lessons:

Lessons Learned (1) Following through
(2) Staying on track
(3) Doing things on their own

If that doesn't get the handkerchief for the Valedictorian Acceptance Speech, or the Oscar, I don't know what will. (Smile.) I am trying this out next week and reporting back!

Mar 20

Printable Spanish A-Z: Alphabet Placemat

Today is Puerto Rican author Luis Palés Matos birthday! And to celebrate, Jump! Immersion School would like to give you a gift! Please download our Spanish Alphabet: A-Z Placemat for your child!

Spanish Alphabet: A-Z Placemat

This placemat has letters A-Z with corresponding words in Spanish and lively pictures your child will recognize to practice letters and words in Spanish. You can even print multiple placemats to help learn setting the table! Click the download button at the end of this post and print on legal-sized (8x14) paper for best results.

Printable Spanish A-Z: Alphabet Placemat

Please be sure to print on regular (8x11) paper
for best results.

Download Printable Placemat

Be sure to get our Printable Chinese Zodiac Placemat and our Printable Mandarin Fruits & Veggies Placemat too!

Mar 12

Homework Struggles? Tick Tock!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

My children were once at a preschool (yes, you read right) where homework could easily run 30 minutes or more a night. Putting aside your own stance on homework volume, what do you do if your child is resisting sitting down and actually doing it?

How about a timer with a buzzer? This has helped my family immensely, believe it or not. What a satisfying sound it became...

BRRRRRRRRRZZZZ!!!

Timer for Kids

Try a Homework Timer

Does your child have "ants in her pants"? Does he just have a case of the doldrums? Present the idea of the timer.

First, decide on an increment of time that is doable, say 15-20 minutes. Then talk to your child and ask for 15 minutes of their undivided attention. 100% focus.

If they give you that, and the homework is done, great! If they give you that and the homework is NOT done... that is fine as well. Just watch their eyes when they realize the magnitude of your statement! However, if they do not focus, you will reset the timer back to the full allotted time again.

To date, I have had success with this—it really takes the pressure off. Use this "just" with language homework or even general homework. I do find that smaller time increments allow for some stretching and moving around, which helps students at any age!

Mar 09

Did you know? Highlights Magazine for Children in Spanish!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

This is not the same magazine you read at the dentist's or doctor's office when you were a kid!

The 60 year old company actually has a bilingual magazine for children, targeted at 2-6 years old. It is called High Five Bilingüe and it is a dual-language magazine.

High Five Bilingüe Magazine cover Bilingual Hidden Pictures® FUN Booklet cover

From their site:

“Each 40-page monthly issue brings a mix of read-aloud and read-along stories, poems, puzzles and activities in Spanish that are repeated in English in the second half of the magazine.”

The upside for non-Spanish speaking parents is a FREE audio download to hear the stories read in Spanish! An annual Subscription starts at about $35 and includes a bilingual Hidden Pictures FUN booklet with each subscription!

The best part? No fuss shopping AND you can even print a "Gift Announcement" from their website to present to your child, grandchild, niece/nephew for an upcoming birthday or special occasion.

Mar 05

A Gift: Chinese Zodiac Placemat!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

The traditional Chinese attach zodiac characters to their yearly cycles, and 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. If you missed our blog series on Chinese New Year, please be sure to read it!

As a thank you for following along in our journey as we learned more about Chinese New Year, please download our Chinese Zodiac Signs placemats for your child. Be sure to get our Printable Spanish Alphabet Placemat too!

For Younger Kids

This one has baby animals and is more preschool-friendly for younger kids. Click the download button at the end of this post and print on legal-sized (8x14) paper for best results.

Printable Chinese Zodiac Placemat for Preschoolers

Please be sure to print on legal-sized (8x14) paper
for best results.

Download Printable Placemats


For Older Kids

This one is more traditionally-styled with red & paper cutout images, perfect for older students or even art lovers.

Printable Chinese Zodiac Placemat

Please be sure to print on legal-sized (8x14) paper
for best results.

Download Printable Placemats


Be sure to get our Mandarin Chinese Fruits & Veggies Placemat and our Spanish A-Z: Alphabet Placemat too!

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