Raising Bilingual Kids & Little Global Citizens

Bilingual Parenting

Benefits of a Bilingual Nursery and Considerations for Parents

Benefits of a bilingual nursery

Last Updated on December 15, 2023 by Bilingual Kidspot

For parents navigating the multilingual landscape, the idea of enrolling their child in a bilingual nursery can be a great choice, unlocking a world of advantages that extend far beyond language proficiency alone. Below you can find a list of great benefits of a bilingual nursery and why you may consider one for your kids.

Reasons for Considering a Bilingual Nursery

Parents may choose a bilingual nursery for a variety of reasons depending on their home situation:

The Home Language Parents

When parents live in a country where their own language is not the main one spoken, they often look for extra ways to help their children get used to speaking and living with their home language. It is really important for children to see their language as something cool and useful, not just something they hear from their parents at home.

Children sometimes go through a phase where they just want to speak the language all their friends are speaking – they want to fit in. That’s where a bilingual nursery can make a big difference. It shows children that their home language isn’t just something mum and dad speak, but it’s a language people use in everyday life outside their home too. This helps children feel proud of their language and see it is worth learning.

The monolingual parents

Parents who did not have the opportunity to learn languages when they were young, of those who found it difficult may look for ways to make it easier for their children – to give them a head start.

Children have a window of opportunity to easily learn an additional language when they are young and parents want to grab it with both hands. Nothing beats having native speakers talking to and looking after your child. Apps and videos do not come close compared to being surrounded by the language.

The ambitious parents

Some families already have two languages at home and see their child is comfortable and confident in it – at whatever age their children are. For the youngest children or 6 months, their might simply mean their child is equally happy being spoken to in each language.

These parents might want to bring an additional one or two languages to their children and enrol them in a bilingual nursery or day care which do not have the their home languages.

Contrary to urban myths, these children do not get their languages confused. If a consistent one-person, one-language model is used these children can really thrive in a multi-lingual upbringing.

Young children have innate potential language learning, and many parents want to priorities this when making choices for their families. This period is the ideal age for children to acquire multiple language, and one which we strongly encourage. However, as helpful and important as language are, it is vital to remember that the early years are a key moment in children’s lives in all areas of their development.

So before the end of this article, we will go into some of the additional factors that are important to take into account before deciding on a nursery.

The Advantages of Bilingual Education in Early Childhood

In a world that’s more interconnected than ever, the ability to speak multiple languages is an invaluable skill. Bilingual nurseries offer a unique environment for young children, where the seeds of multilingualism are planted early. Here’s why a bilingual nursery could be a game-changer for your child’s development.

Cognitive Flexibility

Studies suggest that children exposed to multiple languages from an early age display greater cognitive flexibility. They are often better at switching between tasks and exhibit enhanced problem-solving skills.

Cultural Awareness

A bilingual nursery is a melting pot of cultures, providing children with early exposure to different traditions and viewpoints. This early cultural awareness fosters empathy and global-mindedness.

Improved Language Skills

Children who learn a second language before the age of 5 use the same part of the brain to acquire the new language as they do to learn their mother tongue. This can result in more fluent, natural-sounding language skills.

Educational Advancement

Bilingual children often have a head start when they begin formal education. The experience of learning two languages can improve literacy development and even has the potential to boost achievement in other academic areas.

Long-term Benefits

The benefits of bilingualism are not fleeting. Bilingual individuals enjoy advantages well into adulthood, including greater job opportunities, higher cognitive reserve, and scientific studies show a reduced risk of dementia.

Social Skills

Navigating a bilingual environment requires adaptability and communication. Children in bilingual settings tend to have better social skills and are more adept at understanding and communicating with others.

In conclusion, a good bilingual nursery doesn’t just teach children a second language; it offers a holistic approach to early education that can benefit cognitive development, social skills, cultural understanding, and long-term academic success.

Considering all the factors

As motivated as a parent might be to enrol their child in a bilingual nursery, they should also take into account the holistic viewpoint.

  • Are the teachers and carers qualified?
  • Do they understand child development?
  • Have they worked with children of this age group before (this is really relevant if parents go down the bilingual-nanny route! (A nanny who has only had experience with older children may miss many learning opportunities that a younger child could benefit from! A one year old has very different needs and learning styles compared to even a 3 year old.)
  • What is the food like a the nursery?
  • Is my child going to be happy there?
  • Are they going to learn how to do things for themselves and become confident and independent.

Carol Dweck’s excellent book, Mindset, explains clearly the importance of a growth mindset: teach a child to figure things out, go outside their comfort-zone and discover. This is a vital life skill, and if a child has that, they can learn anything they want. These qualities are most important during their formative years, and should not be sacrificed even for the goal of a bilingual upbringing.

So a high-quality bilingual nursery, which teaches children these skills – perhaps a Montessori one with high quality well trained staff is the perfect place for a child to be enrolled in. We are fortunate to live in world where such settings exist.

Author: Philippe Fraser is a director of Les Petites Etoiles Bilingual Montessori, a group in London, offering French-English and an introduction to Mandarin. Philippe was brought up bilingually and is passionate about early language learning. Read more here>>

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