Parents nationwide often times do not even know the meaning of or reason behind National Hispanic Heritage Month. It has been celebrated for 39 years since September 17, 2007. Enacted into law on that day in 1968, the United States set aside a week to honor our Spanish-speaking citizens. Later the 100th Congress enacted a public Law which increaded the celebration period to 31 days. This year National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15, 2007 to October 15.
The initiative for National Hispanic Heritage Month is an acknowledgement of the more than 44.3 million Americans of Hispanic origin, representing more than 15% of our population. The 31 day observation period honors the Independence Day for many Latin American countries including El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras which celebrate September 15 as their Independence Day. September 16th is Independence Day for Mexico, September 18th for Chile, September 21st for Belize and El Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) is October 12th.
The Spanish language is an integral part of family life, and 32.2 million families speak Spanish in the home. We find Texas leading the nation with 29% of residents speaking Spanish at home. Twenty-two states now report that their largest minority group is Hispanic: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
Why is this important to know and impart to your children? Because the truth is we live in a very global society and it is our responsibility as parents and as educators to bring an appreciation and understanding of others’ cultures and languages into the lives of our young children.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to introduce children to the language and culture that surrounds them every day in their homes, preschool, daycare and elementary school setting. Research shows that children who learn a second language, even before they have mastered their own, are better readers, and that puts them on the path of academic success.
For National Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many activities that will bring the message of understanding, unity and commonality as all ethnic groups raise their voices in song and fun. Read on to find four that focus on food, fitness,language and arts and crafts.
Food is an integral part of Latin American life. Cooking is a social time in Latin American families, and following recipes specific to Latin America will bring Spanish to life for your child.
Continuing with fitness fun, allow you and your child to get up and move and groove to a bilingual song about not eight, not twelve but twenty body parts in Spanish and English!
Counting and language learning combine to make this activity a favorite of parents, teachers and homeschooling families! Children create their own bilingual number book while singing a popular bilingual song for children about counting. The activity turns your home into a classroom immediately.
Children learn about maracas, an instrument from our Hispanic friends. In an activity where children make their own maracas and celebrate birthdays with a bilingual version of the Happy Birthday song.
Repetition and fun are the keys to learning. When you add a little rhythm and a lot of motion the learning then becomes magical for our young children.
Beth Butler is the founder of the BOCA BETH Program for young children. She makes learning Spanish fun. For National Hispanic Heritage Month visit http://www.bocabeth.com for ways to get the activities. For music downloads go to http://bocabeth.com/media/special.asp