How to Choose a Bilingual Preschool
While a lot of preschool curricula introduce and touch on languages other than English, many families are interested in a bilingual program for their little one. Whether little ones are learning multiple languages at home, or monolingual parents want their little ones exposed to more languages, it’s important to pick the right bilingual preschool for your family.
Studies have shown that students who are bilingual excel in multiple fields, including problem-solving, communication, and creativity. And if little ones are surrounded by more than one culture during their early childhood education, their capacity to respect, appreciate, and communicate with other students and people will be nurtured; this is called cultural competence.
Because little ones’ brains are still developing, they are able to learn and retain more than one language easier than adults. When immersed in a program using two languages, little ones get daily practice and build proficiency in both over time. Bilingual Language Development Coach Mae Waugh Barrios states that, ideally, students spend half the time “in a language other than English.” Some programs spend more time focusing on the second language, some split pretty evenly, but every program is different – that’s why it’s so important to ask questions that will guide you toward the best early childhood educational program for your little one.
Helpful Questions to Guide The Way
First of all, any question you think of that has to do with your little one’s early childhood education is an important question. Parents and teachers alike want little ones to thrive in their environment, and that environment is found through asking questions. Here are some areas you may have questions about when it comes to a bilingual preschool:
Credentials: Ask about both the school’s credentials as well as their teachers’; what are the teachers’ level of language proficiency in both English and the other language? Fluency tends to be preferred. Also, how many teachers are in each classroom?
Program Model: The most popular model of program is 50/50 English and another language, but some may use mainly the non-English language; it just depends what curriculum you want for your little one. Additionally, what does the curriculum look like in reference to supporting the use of two languages in the classroom? How is cultural competence developed? What achievable goals can we set for our little one who is learning both of these languages?
Students: What is the current demographic of students enrolled? What is the dominant language used by other students?
These questions are just a jumping off point for finding your little one’s bilingual preschool. The benefits of your little one learning multiple languages are extensive, and no matter what kind of early childhood education you choose, it will be a good fit as long as your little one is happy and thriving!
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Hi, I'm Miss Julia!
Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.