As you may have heard, childhood is the best time to expose your kids to language. As you decide where to send your toddlers to school, the thought of a bilingual preschool may have crossed your mind. There are tons of benefits afforded to those who get a bilingual education but let’s examine what makes a bilingual pre-school education so beneficial.
Your children will get valuable contact time with both languages
Children spend a lot of time at school and while they typically go already knowing how to speak. However, their vocabulary and language skills improve there as well. In order to be bilingual, children will definitely need quality contact time with the language which includes conversations in the language. Going to a bilingual preschool would mean they’ll get adequate exposure which can be supplemented at home or with a language tutor.
This is the best time to expose your child to a second language
We’ve said it many times before and we’ll keep saying it, childhood is the best time for language acquisition. According to the Boston Globe, “The best time to learn a foreign language: Between birth and age 7” Children aren’t born knowing any language, only the ability to learn a language. They’re never too young to expose them to a language and the earlier you expose them the better it is for them. According to a study called, Bilingual experience and executive functioning in young children, “They even get a lot of the benefits the younger they start. early and intensive exposure to, and mastery of, more than one language may be necessary for a benefit in aspects of executive function to manifest itself.” A great way to ensure this is to enroll them in a bilingual preschool.
There are tons of cognitive benefits
Kids that attend bilingual preschools have an increase in self-regulation skills, better ability to monitor their immediate environment, and a stronger ability to switch between tasks. According to a study called, “Bilingual experience and executive functioning in young children” “native bilingual children performed significantly better on the executive function battery than both other groups”. Your kids will also be able to code switch and it may actually help them to focus better.
It will help them appreciate other cultures
It’s pretty impossible to separate culture and language and so they’ll no doubt be exposed to different cultures at the bilingual preschool. Developing an appreciation for other ways of life and other norms and values can help kids be more accepting and tolerant.
What to look for in a bilingual preschool
Naturally, not all bilingual preschools are the same and it’s worth doing some research before picking one.
Check out the curriculum. Besides the language benefits, are the instructors great in other subject areas such as the arts, science or math? The curriculum should address the developmental need of the child at this point of their lives.
Make sure it’s a great environment. Your child should feel safe and you should be encouraged to take an active role in their education.
Make sure their language program is what you want. There are different ways in which schools do bilingual education. Some schools teach strictly in the second language and some do half of the teaching in a second language and half in the native language. Some schools even have kids who are speakers of one language in one classroom and do the teaching in both so that both sets of kids end up learning both languages. You’ll have to decide which approach is best for you and your child.
A bilingual preschool and therefore a bilingual education will be able to provide so many benefits to your kids. If being truly bilingual is the goal, don’t forget to be consistent. Consistency is key. Even after they leave preschool if you can find an elementary school in your area that offers a bilingual education think about sending them there.
Even with your kid in a bilingual preschool, it’s a great idea to encourage more language learning at home. If you’re fluent in one of the target languages, you can aid them in fluency. In addition to that, you can also hire a language tutor to continue helping them. Actually, whether or not you aim for a bilingual preschool, a language tutor could be helpful in helping your child to achieve fluency. We can definitely help you with that part. We’re doing Spanish immersion classes starting at $12 per class. If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to reach out.