It is widely recognized that enrollment in childcare facilities can be a major help to parents. Fewer than a third of American parents work less than 40 hours a week, making it easy to believe that about 80% of children under five with working mothers attend child care, 49% of whom attend for at least 40 hours a week. Those 10.5 million children are gaining an important experience. Childcare facilities foster good critical thinking skills while providing important social learning experiences. Especially for parents who are raising a bilingual child, day care can make a big difference. Though any quality, developmentally appropriate program is likely to facilitate a child’s growth, finding childcare that helps bilingual child development is a particularly excellent goal. Children under the age of four are in a unique position for language acquisition as they are experiencing more rapid neuron connections that they ever will again. Early childhood is the time to most easily become fluent. Even monolingual parents wondering how to raise a bilingual child can benefit from bilingual childcare facilities, as long as they are committed to raising a bilingual child at home. Here, we’ll look at the major model that bilingual childcare facilities use and provide a few tips for raising a bilingual child at home. Dual Immersion In a dual immersion childcare program, half of the enrolled children are proficient in one language, and the other half are proficient in another. During the first half of the day, one of those languages is used exclusively, and during the second half, the other language is used exclusively. Using this method, all students are exposed not only to their own languages but to the target language through immersion, the process of learning through total engagement. This is a popular method for teaching a bilingual classroom and has proven to be extremely effective. Supporting Bilingualism at Home Raising a bilingual child has to be a goal at home as well as at school in order for children to really benefit. Parents can try some of the following suggestions for fostering that language development:
- Join or start a playgroup for the second language.
- Read books in both languages.
- Find and play word games that use vocabulary from both languages.
- Sing songs together in both languages.
- Find a college student to baby sit who is fluent in the child’s second language.
- If you can, visit a place where the second language is spoken.
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