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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

3 Tips for Dealing with Fire Safety Week in a Second Language

Fire Safety Week - La Semana de Seguridad Contra Incendios

Anyone who ever was in grade school probably remembers Fire Safety Week. Field trips to the local fire station. Rolling around on the classroom floor to practice "Stop, Drop, and Roll!" Mimeographed Sparky the Fire Dog coloring sheets. (You remember mimeographs, right? Purple ink. Damp paper. A certain intoxicating smell.)

As a child, it is a fun and memorable week at school. Now as adults, we also understand what an important week it is for our children and their safety and well-being. And we realize that to reap the full benefits of this fun week at school, our children most certainly need to understand all of the information coming at them.

So what, then, about children in Dual Language and Language Immersion programs? Can our children absorb all of this critical information if it's coming at them in a non-native language? How can we ensure their comprehension of this potentially life-and-death topic?

First: Talk with your children at home (in your home language) about fire safety.

Don't remember all the basics yourself?
Jennifer at The Good Long Road shares 10 tips directly from a fire fighter here.
I must admit, a couple on the list were new to me (or new-again to me). Very interesting, the benefits of keeping doors closed! (#10 on Jennifer's list)

Second: Help your children attain a good grasp on fire-related vocabulary in the language of their schooling

In this way, their energies won't go toward new-vocabulary-acquisition during Fire Safety events at school; rather, their minds will be ready to absorb the critical safety information.

Need some help in this area? Check out my a mini-pack of printables in Spanish, to give our younger elementary students a firm grasp of the vocabulary and concepts they'll encounter throughout Fire Safety Week. (Click image for the full listing in my TpT store.)

Jennifer from Spanish Playground also has links to various free Fire Safety printables in Spanish here, including a great document from The Hartford here.

Finally: Reach out to an area fire station for more activities and resources.

If you feel the language barrier, or any other challenge, has prevented your child from fully grasping the important safety messages of the week, contact your local fire station. (Don't call 9-1-1 for this! Check the phone book or online for a station house number.) Depending on your area, materials may be available in multiple languages. And if you get the right person on the phone, you might even be invited by the station to visit (or at least to pick up the materials, which is still exciting for the kiddos)!

And now, to paraphrase an old saying, left-over from my lifeguarding years:

"Okay, Parents, let get out there and save some lives!" 

Any other great tips to help multilingual kids maximize the lessons of Fire Safety Week? Share your experience in the comments!

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