- Use your native language at home - The easiest, most important step is to use your home language every day. Many families worry that using their home language will confuse their children. In fact, children can easily learn several languages at the same time. They have an easier time learning English when they have a strong foundation in their first language.
- Tell stories and sing songs - Your family has a rich heritage to pass on to your children. Stories, chants, rhymes, poems, sayings, and songs from your childhood are an important part of their heritage. Share these with your children and have fun!
- Tell stories and share books together - Read a book to your child every day—in whatever language you feel most comfortable—beginning at birth. And if you don’t feel comfortable reading words, you can point out the pictures in the book and talk with your child about them.
- Check out materials in your language from the library - Look for books, DVDs, and music in your language. If they don’t have what you want, ask the library staff to help you find what you need.
- Talk about your traditions and culture - Visit your child’s classroom or child care provider. Share your language and traditions, including family songs and games. Encourage your child to retell family stories and share your heritage with their teacher, friends, and others.
- Look for activities in your community - Attend cultural festivals and concerts and meet other families who speak your home language. Join with other families and organize your own events!
- Continue using your home language as your children grow older - Sometimes children start to prefer English as they get older. Talk with your children about the benefits of speaking two languages. Continue using your language, even if your children respond in English so you keep your lines of communication open.
- Don’t forget that YOU are key to maintaining your home language - Parents and other family members are the most important people in your children’s lives. What you value, your children will learn to value. Help them learn that your family’s language and culture are something to be proud of and to treasure. Remember the benefits of your home language and remain committed to continuing to use it, no matter your child’s age.
Community Service Programs of West Alabama (CSP), Inc.’s Head Start/Early Head Start, Child Care Partnership, and Early Intervention programs engage families and encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Safe and healthy children are ready to learn and explore their world.