Being a Parent

The Intellectual Vitamin for Kids: Dual Language Preschool

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Dual language learning in preschool helps builds executive function, empathy, cognitive flexibility, cultural identity, and fluency.

 

Executive Function

Executive Function is often stronger in bilingual children. When kids are learning two languages, they really have to focus on which language to speak in the moment. Saying "Goodbye" to Mom and then "Boker Tov" (Hebrew for “good morning”) to your teacher demands close attention! This kind of fluid interaction improves their ability to switch from one task to another. “Task-switching” is a core building block for developing strong executive functioning skills like paying attention, organizing and planning, focus, and self-monitoring.

Empathy

Young dual language learners have to follow social cues to figure out which language to use and in what setting. This helps build empathy and social engagement skills. In basic social-emotional skills testing, bilingual children as young as three often score higher than their monolingual peers.

Cognitive Flexibility

Children’s brains are like sponges! They are constantly creating connections among different symbols, words, and concepts. Because we know that learning and speaking more than one language makes the brain more flexible, dual language classrooms help to further expand children's mental skills. Specifically in areas like visual problem-solving, pattern recognition, abstract thinking, and logic.

Cultural Connections

Through dual language learning, preschoolers effortlessly develop an understanding of–and deep familiarity with–two cultures. This helps to strengthen their own identities, creates a sense of belonging, and inspires cultural curiosity.

Improved Fluency

Studies have shown that after the age of seven, children start to lose the natural ability to reproduce new sounds. This makes second language acquisition slower and more difficult. The ideal way for a child to learn additional languages is continuous, regular exposure, but this isn’t always possible. For this reason, introducing languages in the early childhood years of education is the best way to make the most of this innate ability.


Thanks to our article sponsor, The Early Childhood Center at Congregation Beth Elohim; a preschool that fosters growth, curiosity, and self-esteem.

 

 

 

The Four-Letter Word Your Family Needs

 Sponsored By 

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Your toddler is spinning around like a headless chicken caught inside a tornado, and your tween is escalating from 3 to 10 on the NOOOOOO scale.

Do you:

(a) Feel your blood pressure rising and respond to your kids at the same level of frenzied energy they’re putting out?

(b) Calm everyone down—starting with yourself—and then address their needs?

(c) Hide?

For most of us, the answer is (a). Our kids are in a tizzy, we are in a tizzy– there is always so much to get done – and we soldier on convinced that doing will lead to getting done, and getting done will lead to rest. That seems like a reasonable assumption… except, it’s wrong.

Intentional, deep REST—purposely de-stimulating yourself at key times during your busy day—is fundamental to your family’s health, productivity, and well-being. We recognize this with babies. We know that good naps make for happier infants and better nighttime sleep. But, we often forget it with older kids, and with ourselves.

That’s not our fault. The pace and technology of 21st century living causes us to live in elevated sympathetic arousal. That’s the “fight, flight, or freeze” part of the nervous system. Excellent for keeping us alive in moments of crisis, but terrible for daily life. The more our stress response activates, the more it becomes our go-to. Having our sympathetic nervous system switched “on” is detrimental to our physical and mental health. The same is even more true for children.

As parents, we can learn to weave REST into our family’s day. This will activate the parasympathetic “rest-digest-repair” nervous system, which fosters qualities like equanimity, organization, and empathy. Believe it or not, intentional rest actually helps you get more done.

Try these simple practices, with kids and by yourself. Go from fight-flight-freeze to rest-digest-repair in two - five minutes.

  • Centering breaths: Inhale 4 counts, exhale 4 counts. Inhale 5, exhale 5. Inhale 6, exhale 6. Now inhale 6, exhale 8. Repeat six more cycles.
  • Jaw de-clencher: Place tongue tip in between top and bottom teeth. Inhale 4, hold 1, exhale 4, hold 1. Repeat 10 times.
  • Regenerator: Set timer for 5 minutes. Lie down on floor. Close eyes. Put both hands on belly. Inhale feel belly rise, exhale feel belly fall. When timer rings, smile before opening eyes.
  • Buddy breaths: Sit back-to-back with your child or partner. Inhale and exhale deeply through the nose. Lean gently on each other and notice your breaths align.


Try one of these practices in the morning before the get-ready rush, exactly when you feel like you don’t have a moment to spare. In the midst of a toddler tornado; on your commute; before homework and dinner prep; after kid bedtime. Notice how just one or two minutes of deep, intentional REST helps deescalate the highest stress times of day—and reduces your need for other four-letter words!

The Parents’ Place designs individualized mindfulness and movement programs that help families build strength and flexibility in mind, body, and spirit to (re)find their centers and live better, together. 

 

 

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