Supporting Bilingual Children In Childcare

24 March 2015
 Categories: , Blog

If your first language is not English, you are no doubt eager for your children to keep speaking your native language fluently. If your child is in childcare, this is a great chance for them to get confident in speaking English before school and get the most of the neural benefits of being bilingual.

Here are some ways to help your childcare carers support your efforts in keeping your child bilingual.

Create language zones

Explain to your child that they will speak a different language at childcare, compared to home. They will be taught the words they need to use by the carers and other kids and can use their normal language with their family. It is important for you to continue speaking your native language at home so that your child doesn't lose language skills as they take on their new language. They may initially have some confusion transitioning between languages but will easily resolve this over time.

Create a list of common words in your language

So that your carers can recognise some of your child's request, it is useful to give you child's carers a short list of words in your native language that your child might use such as hello/goodbye, tired, hungry, toilet, hurt, sad, more and so on. These can let carers respond if your child is tired and struggling to remember the correct English term, so  they can still help your child to understand.

Seek bilingual carers

For many languages, it is possible to find childcare centres with staff that speak your native language. While this is ideal, childcare is also a great environment for children to pick up English in an immersive, native environment before they reach formal school, so don't disregard centres that do not have native speakers of your language on staff. Your centre may also be able to run language classes for the children in later years to pick up second languages, as this is a popular extension activity for children.

Provide or request room resources from your language

Make sure your child's room has a copy of some of their favourite books in your language. The other parents will no doubt be happy for their child to get some exposure to your language, and your child may like "reading" it to their childcare friends.

By integrating your plans to develop bilingualism both within your child's childcare centre and the home environment, you maximise the chances of your child becoming fully bilingual. For more information, contact a business such as Hopscotch Boambee.