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Many people have asked and worried about how our children's English would be affecting moving to a country where English is not used. Before we left, I had a plan that would be similar to supplemental homeschooling. We'd have a course outline and work on English work daily. In practice this didn't work – at least not yet. My kids have just under an hour of English instruction at school, but it's very basic and below their level. By the time they finish school and tutoring for the day they're exhausted and I can see their brains have been stretched. Instead of focusing on structured learning I've instead opted to combine in a few things that will hopefully retain and strengthen their language skills but not overwhelm them.
One of the easiest ways I've found to keep them engaged in English is through reading. M is an independent reader, while K is just learning to read. I do worry about teaching him to read in English, and am trying to take extra care to practice and help him start reading on his own. The good news is he loves to be read to so the next step shouldn't be too big of a leap.
We picked up the whole Little House series for M from a thrift store before we left. He read Little House in the Big Woods at school last year and so we picked up the rest. He really likes historical fiction, books about real people and places so that's what we get!
Some of these books we've brought hard copies of, while others are on their Kindles. I've been able to get lots of these books inexpensively through Amazon, thrift sales, and books that were being given away. I've also brought with 2 discontinued textbooks that our elementary school was giving away. This is a great guide for me as I help K learn to read.
Neither of my kids love writing. It might be because school here in Morocco focuses heavily on writing from a very young age and they're just burned out. Some of the ways that I've tried to keep them writing in English is by writing postcards home. I also picked up some dual notebook/drawing books – they have a blank space at top for illustrations and lines at the bottom to write. When we're traveling or having down time at home I encourage the kids to get out their books and write/draw stories.
They also attend a local English language center. Why you're asking would we do that? While they SPEAK English as a first language they also need help to keep up in writing and reading. This is one way to help with this.
Right before we left for Morocco, I had the opportunity to try an iPad app called Tabtor Math. We were given a free 6 month trial and are about half way through this trial period. My kids, especially K really love using the iPad. It holds his attention and gets him interested. What I like about this program is that there are people on the other end of it. Each of my kids took a pre-test and was evaluated based on their answers. This wasn't done at random, there was an instructor who reviewed their tests. For each subsequent “assignment” we were provided a review of their work. K enjoys using this program more than M. I attribute this to different learning styles. We've found M does really well in school here, he's absorbed almost everything that's been handed to him and has had little trouble retaining it. Overall, this is a very good app, that doesn't feel to my kids at least, like homework. They will sit down on their own and choose to see if there are new worksheets to do (and do them!) Tabtor is offering all of my readers a $10 off subscription – you can pick that up by registering through this link.
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