It’s September, and that can only mean one thing: back to school season! While we love the summer and its long, fun-filled days, the new season brings with it the return of a daily routine, order, and a focus on the new year. Parents will agree that back to school is the best time to get organized, create new plans, and of course—focus on how you can incorporate Arabic into your child’s life this school year.
Here are some quick tips we rounded up for you on how best you can use this time to re-focus your energy on Arabic:
1. Morning routine: begin your day with an Arabic greeting, “صباح الخير”, to activate up your child’s “Arabic” senses from the minute they wake up. You’ll notice that your kids will quickly catch on. It’s a simple start, but slowly replacing English phrases with Arabic ones, from “good morning” to “what would you like to eat for breakfast?” will have a strong impact on your child’s comprehension of Arabic. If you drive your children to and from school, why not pop in an audiobook to get their brains engaged with Arabic before anything else?2. After school activities: the easy option would be to relinquish the television remote or iPad so you can get dinner started, but try to resist it every few days! If I have a few extra minutes the night before, I try to set up some activity trays that I use to buy me some peaceful cooking time in the evening. Since my children’s school doesn’t assign homework, we have more time to enjoy activities that interest them. Some examples of activities I’ve set out for them:
- Arabic alphabet recognition: Using a baking sheet and some Arabic alphabet magnets or magnetic letters from our Arabic Letter Connector, my 3.5 year old puts the letters in order. I include an Arabic alphabet book next to the letters so he can make the connection with the words and pictures in the book.
- Arabic alphabet and word tracing pages: I found that tearing out the pages was easier for my children to manage and focus on rather than handing them a workbook. I also try to connect the writing activity to something more interactive, like prompting them to go hunting for objects that begin with the letter they are practicing writing.
- Arabic word matching: choose a theme your child enjoys, for example, my son loves animals. I printed out and laminated (my laminator is my new best friend!) the names of some animals in Arabic. He has several sets of animal cards (any set will do, he enjoys this set the most) and I told him to match the animal names with the animal picture card. This activity is inspired by the Montessori “3-Part Card” concept (I realize it’s only 2 parts though!). There are a lot of DIY guides on how to make them, like this one. And I encourage him to then read one of our many Arabic books about animals!
3. Dinner time: the kitchen abounds with a slew of things you can use to reinforce Arabic--shapes, colors, sizes, and names of everything from fruits and veggies, to cheese and milk, to utensils! Kids love the kitchen so it’s a great opportunity to utilize their help, while conversing in Arabic and emphasizing key vocabulary. Ask your child to identify the names of vegetables in a soup while they wash them for you. Enlist their help for setting the table while practicing using Arabic words for utensils, plates, cups, etc. Even better, use a recipe themed book like Mariam's Pie to make cheese and zaatar pies that are a hit with most kids!
4. Bedtime: Arguably one of the most difficult times of the day with everyone tired and ready to hit the bed (except those preschoolers!), reward your child for brushing their teeth and getting into their pjs by snuggling up with a good Arabic book. Storytime in a dimmed room with a cozy chair will give them something to look forward to daily.
What better time to bond than at the end of a long day and after the kids are fed, bathed, and ready for bedtime snuggles? The giggles will come out with Fifi and Dana, and if you want their imagination to soar, you’ll enjoy reading a few pages each night of this chapter book and keep the anticipation for the next few nights!