How to raise a multi-literate child
I came across fellow French teacher (and parent) Yoshito on Instagram @multilingualdad. Not only does he teach French, but like myself he also speaks the language at home with his children. As a non-native French speaker raising my child to speak a foreign language, I've followed his journey and experiences with interest. He's recently written and published a book, The Parent's Guide to Raising Multi-literate Children, and I was keen to check it out.
I attended the launch party a few months (!!!) ago and was lucky enough to win a copy of the book. It's great timing as my son is now eight years old and at a stage where he's working on reading and writing in French. He had already started this process at his French supplementary school a few years ago, but due to the pandemic it's not currently running so we've been left to our own devices! It's definitely a good idea anyhow to incorporate the literacy element into home learning, as he was attending only one after school session per week - and as with learning anything, it's good to practice daily and consistently. We had started with Mon cahier de lecture which is recommended for ages five to seven. It does the job, but I was hoping to find something a bit more fun that we could do! We then tried the French language learning card game Kloo which is enjoyable, but as it's aimed at French beginner-level learners, it's not quite the thing for us. I can see how it would really help beginner learners, though. In fact, even those without any knowledge of the language can have fun playing and learning French very quickly so you may like to check that out!
I really love that Yoshito takes a gentle approach and encourages us to be kind with our children as well as ourselves. I was slightly surprised and quite pleased to see that mindset and use of language is mentioned. Yoshito includes lots of practical tips for teaching in his book, which are just as important as the activities, if not even more so. Oftentimes it's not what we do but how we do it. I appreciated that he took the time to cover the do's and don'ts of introducing literacy to your child before getting into the activities.
Another thing that sets this book apart is that it is a guide aimed at parents and carers rather than for teachers. It's great that Yoshito is providing these tools specifically to support and empower parents on their language journey with their child, and doing so in a way that makes it fun! I know from research as well as my own experience that the best way how to teach your child French is through play. These activities can be a lovely shared moment spent together with your child.
There are more than 70 activity ideas each with instructions and a short explanation of the learning process (why it works). The activities are broken down into three categories: single letters/words, short sentences and short texts; with reading and writing activities for each.
The first chapter can be downloaded for free here on Yoshito's website if you'd like to check it out. You can buy your own copy from Amazon or other booksellers online.