Parallel learning & bilingual literacy
Recently I have been following my son’s progress with English literacy using his Italian schoolwork as a reference point. This works well especially for numeracy and science subjects, but when it comes to learning reading and writing it takes a little more work. I decided to introduce this immediately after Christmas when he began to show an interest in speaking English within the home environment. We slowly started to do a few activities without any pressure just as his handwriting skills and reading fluency were improving. We now switch regularly from Italian to English books and his reading skills are improving in the minority language too. The work we do at home follows the same path as the activities he does in school but at a much slower pace as I am conscious not to overdo it. I often let him be the one to ask to work together. This form of parallel learning is proving to be very productive especially because he finds it very familiar. It is an extended way of learning rather than additional work. Because of the different structure of the two languages I felt I needed to find the right approach to help him with spelling and general literacy skills that was in line with the British curriculum so I have been on the lookout for a good online resource and I found a great site called Primary Leap Frog. This online resource is aimed to help children with their schoolwork at home to succeed where large class numbers often fail by offering printable work and answer sheets organised in subjects and in school year to help them with their SATs. This is a great resource for us as the British curriculum is very similar to the Italian. It is interesting to look at the work sheets to compare learning in the two countries. Most subjects are pretty much levelled between British and Italian curricula, but there is a big difference in reading and writing skills as the British kids have a much harder time at it. The variations of phonics and spelling options, often for the same sound, calls for a more spread out process unlike in Italian schools where children are able to learn to read and write everything in year 1.