Posted on: 12 May 2016
Kindergarten is often seen as little more than structured playtime in a school setting, but choosing a specialized program could give your child a real head start on life. Multilingual kindergartens that encourage students to practice two or more languages help your child make the most of their earliest educational experiences. Discover the five major benefits your child will gain by learning multiple languages from the beginning.
Increased Cognitive Development
The most surprising benefit of learning a second language at a young age is the cognitive enhancement recorded by multiple studies. For example, it's proven that bilingual adults have increased gray matter in the sections of the brain linked to executive control. Similar studies demonstrate that bilingual kids also experience improvements in their executive functioning, demonstrated through improved abilities like focusing on a task despite distractions. Even if you don't have any specific link to a second language due to family history or heritage, picking a commonly spoken language for a bilingual kindergarten program is likely worth the cognitive improvements.
Improved Social Opportunities
Of course, you shouldn't just choose a kindergarten program based on future test scores since your child needs more than study skills. Students who learn a second language early in life, such as during kindergarten, enjoy a broader set of social skills. Bilingual kindergartens become adults who can
- Better appreciate other cultures and integrate into them faster
- Feel more comfortable tackling the challenges of learning a new language and communicating with strangers
- Make new friends from a broader mix of backgrounds.
Aside from finding friends from different cultures, kids who grow up fluent in one of the world's most widely spoken languages also enjoy a wider range of employment opportunities as adults. Employers are increasingly requiring bilingualism for candidates across all industries, so it's worth investing in now while your child is still young rather than leaving the pressure on them later.
Faster Language Absorption
It's not surprising that children absorb language skills quickly in the first few years of life since that's when they're learning their primary methods of communication. It makes sense to include a second or third language in the initial push to build vocabulary and learn the rudimentary elements of spoken grammar. Your child also takes advantage of physical advantages that make it easier to pick up an unfamiliar language, such as greater neuromuscular control that aids in accurate pronunciation. It's far easier for a child to slowly build on their language skills over the years instead of trying to become fluent within just a few years in high school or college.
Greater Connection to Heritage
Are you raising a child that is the first or second generation in your family to live in the US? Whether you moved here from Europe as a young adult or heard stories from your grandparents about their childhood in South America, teaching your child your family's first language helps them stay connected to their heritage. Kids who learn the language spoken by their extended family have greater opportunities for communicating with older relatives or even visiting the family members who still live in the country your family used to call home.
Longer Mental Flexibility
On top of gaining gray matter and cognitive skills early in life that help with the rest of the school experience, bilingual kindergartners also grow into adults who retain those mental advantages for the rest of their lives. Research shows that elderly adults with fluency in at least two languages tend to score as well as far younger monolingual counterparts when tested for cognitive task switching abilities. By taking a little more time to find a specialty kindergarten now, you're giving your child the gift of a sharper mind for life.Share