Bi-Lingual Toddlers: Giving Our Kids a Headstart
From birth to the age of three, children’s brains are growing at the fastest rate they will experience in their entire lives. This makes them like little sponges, hungry for learning and new experiences. One of the best things to teach your children from this age is how to speak a second language. Recent studies have shown that the absolute best time to learn a new language is when you’re learning your first one, giving babies and toddlers the opportunity for a head start at both school and life.
Bonjour Mon Enfant: Getting Your Child Bilingual
Children are naturally curious about the world around them, and with their rapidly developing language skills, they can naturally pick up a second language quite rapidly. Increasingly, there has been a push for preschools to even implement language programs into their daily routines, as having these skills gives kids a leg up in the increasingly global economy down the line. There’s no need to invest in expensive lessons either. With just a few simple methods, your child will know their apple from a manzana.
1) Purchase Bilingual Toys and Gadgets
Educational toy makers are recognizing the demand for more bilingual toys, and the market is responding with plenty of options. Many toys now come with options for switching from Spanish to English, and there are even tablet and smart phone games where toddlers can engage with various foreign languages in a fun way. Encourage your children with praise, perhaps even in their new language, when you hear them pronounce or use a word correctly.
Even though many parents want to limit screen time for their little ones, occasionally television can still act as an educator. Kid favorites Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! both feature the regular use of Spanish words and phrases. Even good old Sesame Street is, and always has been, in on the act. Try watching these programs with your children and make it a learning experience for both of you.
3) Hire Bilingual or Foreign Nanny
If you are looking for some help around the house or just with your kids, thinking internationally can really bring home the benefits. Some professional nannies may speak English as a first language, but have the ability to teach other languages such as French or Spanish. Foreign nannies are also a popular option, and with the whole world to choose from your child could have opportunities to learn the language of your choice.
Hearing a language from a native speaker is one of the best ways to learn a language, and if you or your family hail from a foreign country, it’s also a great way to teach your child about their culture. As your child learns a new word, teach them the word from your language along with it. Aim for one word a day, and watch their vocabulary grow.
Giving your kid a head start in school and in life is a huge concern for parents, and giving them bilingual skills can get them started on the right path. Provide your children with the tools they need to learn, and encourage them to enjoy the process. By making learning fun, you’ll teach them a skill that will stay with them for life.
Domonique Powell wrote this article after viewing an educational infant toy at http://www.kidsii.com/p-57-octoplush.aspx which she felt would benefit new moms.
Photo credits: (1) http://www.flickr.com/photos/dickdotcom/8332179075/