Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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How can I help my child receive a bilingual education?

March 28, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A girl reads a book and says, "I love you." "Te amo." "Thank you." "Gracias." "Please." "Por favor."

Question: My 5-year-old daughter speaks Spanish and English, as my husband and I are bilingual and speak both languages to her. When she starts school in the fall, we want her to learn both in Spanish and English. How can we help her receive a bilingual education?

Answer: It’s wonderful that you want your daughter to continue growing up bilingual. In a world of increased globalization, knowing multiple languages is not only a valuable business skill, but also one that reduces limitations for your daughter and gives her the opportunity for greater cultural experiences.

The best option for ensuring your daughter receives a bilingual education is to enroll her in a dual language bilingual education school. These schools teach both English and another language through all grades and subjects, which will solidify her fluency in both languages.

Another option is to choose a school that offers Spanish classes at the elementary level. Since she already speaks the language a bit, she may be able to test out of the introductory course and begin at a more advanced level.

If these programs are not available in your area, you may need to supplement her bilingual education outside of traditional school time. Here are some simple ways to do that:

  • Practice “Spanish-only” time at dinner or another designated time with your child. Talk about regular things in Spanish. If your daughter has trouble remembering a vocabulary word, ask her to use the Spanish words she knows to describe it.
  • Enroll your daughter in Spanish classes at her skill level. You can find these classes at local Spanish-language schools, tutoring businesses, or even at private schools.
  • Read Spanish children’s books to your daughter. Once she can read, ask her to read these books to you. Reading in another language is one of the best ways to learn grammar rules and common phrases.

From formal education to reading exercises, there are many ways to give your daughter a bilingual education. Soon she will be ready for a third language!

For more information on dual language bilingual education, or to learn about transitional bilingual education, please refer to Through Elementary and Middle School, the second book in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series.

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How can my wife and I manage time with our kids when we both work?

March 21, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Two siblings laugh with their parents while enjoying breakfast together.

Question: My wife and I have unusual schedules. While she works Monday through Friday, I work Wednesday through Sunday. How can we manage to spend time with the kids together?

Answer: It’s difficult to spend time together as a family when both parents work. It’s even more difficult when each person’s time off doesn’t match up.

Regardless of your children’s ages, there are small things you and your wife can do to ensure you spend time together. It will just take some extra effort.

  • Read. If both parents are home on certain nights, read to your younger children together.
  • Eat. On days when you’re all home in the morning, eat breakfast together and talk about what each family member has planned for the day.
  • Schedule. Manage your family’s schedule just as you manage your child’s schedule. Keep a calendar of events in a central location so you know when everyone is available.
  • Activities. On days off, start family activities like game nights, and sharing meals.
  • Vacations. Plan a road trip and/or vacation with your family. Spend some extended bonding time together that you will all remember when it’s tough to see each other frequently.
  • Celebrate. Try to change shifts with a co-worker every once in a while so the family can celebrate a milestone together.

These small efforts add up. From a family breakfast on Monday morning, reading before bed on Tuesday, family dinner on Wednesday, and game night on Thursday, that’s already four family events for the week.

For more information on finding time and activities to share with your family, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series. In Through Elementary and Middle School, see pages 42-43, 58-59, and 84-85. In Through High School and Beyond, see pages 36-37.

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How do I effectively discipline my child without being physical?

March 14, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A child frowns while his mother disciplines him.

Question: I don't want to discipline my kids by spanking them, but my husband does. He doesn’t think there’s another option. How can we effectively discipline our kids without being physical?

Answer: Disciplining a child is no easy task. It’s normal at times to feel desperate, frustrated, and mad. If you or your husband feels the urge to spank your child or act out in anger, take a time-out and breathe. Striking your children will only have negative consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child and discourages any form of physical punishment. Effective discipline is possible without being physical. You and your husband can start by setting limits.

Be clear about your house rules.
It’s up to you to define and make clear what you expect from your children. Discuss house rules with them often, when you are all calm. If your rules are clear and easy to understand, your children will have an easier time following them.

Be consistent.
Every adult who cares for your children should be consistent when enforcing rules and actions. Remember that children model behavior and may not follow rules if you or other caregivers don’t follow them, too. Discipline helps your children learn to behave in the real world with real people.

Be supportive.
When pointing out unacceptable behavior, always communicate that you still love and support your children.

Set measures that are developmentally appropriate.
Each age comes with specific techniques to discipline a child. For example, at the toddler stage, you must ensure safety and limit aggression. Use brief verbal explanations and redirect your children to an alternative activity.

In contrast, while disciplining a teenager, you should explain rules in a noncritical way. Parents shouldn’t belittle the teenager, but instead explain the logical consequences of his or her actions.

Disciplining with love, understanding, and consistency while modeling behavior has much better results in the short and long term than using physical discipline.

For more information on the issues addressed in this question, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically Through the Early Years. See page 13 for information about taking time out for yourself, page 38 for understanding the importance of modeling positive behavior and page 56 for information about establishing boundaries for your child.

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My special needs child is falling behind in school. How can I help?

March 7, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

F on a test

Question: My daughter is special needs and is falling behind in school. I don’t think she’s getting the extra attention she needs in the classroom. How can I help her succeed?

Answer: With any child, it is important that you as the parent are involved in your daughter’s education. Since she has already been diagnosed as special needs, it is important that you follow up with the school regarding her declining progress. Both public and private schools are required to educate every child who enrolls in them. There are many rules and regulations in place for public and private schools. In either case, to help your school make the best accommodations for your daughter, talk to the administration about adapting your daughter’s curriculum using these five techniques:

  1. Scheduling. The teacher may need to allow your daughter extra time for assignments.
  2. Setting. Your daughter may perform better if she works in a smaller group or one-on-one with her teacher.
  3. Materials. The teacher may need to provide class material in various formats or include extra notes.
  4. Instruction. The teacher may need to reduce the difficulty of assignments or reading requirements.
  5. Student Response. Depending on your daughter’s needs, the teacher may be able to accept her responses in a different format, such as verbally instead of written, or in an outline instead of an essay.

You may also need to speak with the school regarding an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which would provide a different level of special education services. If your child is enrolled in a private school and the above options are not adequate, you will need to speak with your local or state educational agency (LEA or SEA) about further accommodations.

You can learn more about special needs education and an IEP in our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, specifically on pages 16-17 in Through Elementary and Middle School and page 23 in Through High School and Beyond.

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