Our last blog posting focused on how teachers can use bilingual books to create preschool links to the K-12 Common Core Standards, specifically in listening and reading (click on the link if you missed this piece).
In this article, we will focus on another key area in which bilingual books can help in the preschool to kindergarten transition: interpersonal skills.
Reading seems like such a solitary activity; how could it support children in relating to one other?
Home language books use familiar vocabulary and give Dual Language Learners (DLLs) more to talk about. When the books are available in more than one language, a common ground begins to open up between the students in your class. Their social skills improve, which will eventually ease their transition between schools. Mei and Laura play Cinderella together once they have both seen and heard the story in words they can understand, and a friendship is forged over a fairy godmother’s wand. Mei and Laura’s confidence flourish – and bippity boppity boo, kindergarten becomes a little less scary because they already feel comfortable playing with new friends, even if they don’t speak the same language.
Of course, your pre-k students probably won’t be reading independently yet. But seeing We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Wheels on the Bus in Farsi, and hearing his teacher read some of the Farsi words, builds Chermine’s self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. He doesn’t feel like an outsider—he feels valued. He may want to participate in class and be involved with the other children rather than hiding shyly at a table in the back of the room. These experiences and emerging interpersonal skills will stand Chermine in good stead for the rest of his education: he’ll be able to get the most out of his lessons and his interactions with other children when he enters kindergarten.
Reading for any child this age isn’t a solo activity, but particularly for a DLL, it becomes a very valuable, inclusive process which teaches important literacy and social skills. The transition from pre-k to kindergarten is never going to be an easy one, but bilingual books can play a huge role in supporting your bilingual students as they move on to exciting new challenges!
photo credits: Carmella Fernando @ flickr.com, Escola Jerusalem @ flickr.com, and Bindaas Madhavi @ flickr.com