Given that your little one is still learning the English language, you may think a bilingual kindergarten would only confuse them and slow their progress. However, the truth is that bilingual child care is unmatched in its benefits for young minds. Here are just four reasons why you should consider enrolling your child at a kindergarten that combines English with a language like Italian, Mandarin, or Arabic.
1. Bilingual kindergartens build mental agility
Bilingualism is associated with improved linguistic, cognitive and social skills, even in childhood. According to research, children who can speak two languages are more mentally agile than their peers. In the same way that they learn how to switch between languages as needed, they also learn to switch between different concepts—or even think about multiple concepts at the same time. On top of this, bilingual children have improved attention and focus, and they're even better at completing mental puzzles. Most notably, the study revealed children who learned a second language when they were young were quicker at these puzzles than adults who became bilingual later in life.
2. Bilingual kindergartens build empathy
While it may not be immediately obvious, learning to speak a second language as a young child can also build empathy. In a bilingual kindergarten, children learn how to understand different language cues to help them work out which language to use. With a second language on the table, children start to notice various differences in other people's behaviour and speech patterns that are otherwise easily missed. In turn, they gain a greater awareness of certain social situations and other people's thoughts and feelings.
3. Bilingual kindergartens build appreciation of diversity
As time goes by, Australia is becoming a more rich and varied melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. One of the benefits of bilingual kindergarten is that it helps your child build a strong love and appreciation of diversity. Children will learn about different languages and cultures in a dual language setting, showing them all the rest of the world has to offer. Bilingual kindergarten students also learn that knowing a different language can help them communicate better in an increasingly globalised world.
4. Bilingual kindergartens grow opportunities for the future
Yet another benefit of bilingual kindergartens is that learning a second language young means your child is more likely to be fluent or conversational in the future, and that skill will open up numerous future opportunities. For example, people who speak two languages have more job opportunities. Even if your child doesn't want to work abroad in the future, employers are always on the lookout for staff who can help them liaise with foreign customers and business partners. Plus, before that, your child will have plenty of opportunities to study abroad over the course of their education if they're not limited by monolingualism.
Reach out to a kindergarten in your area to learn more.