Wow, what an intriguing headline! It seems that at the moment everyday there are new studies being published regarding the countless benefits of growing up #bilingual. It not only makes us better communicators or hightens our ability to multi-task it may not have also long term health benefits.
"Trilingualism and full literacy in two languages is the goal for all students in Hong Kong's public education system. English and Chinese are taught at primary school and the city has at least 28 international kindergartens that teach in English and Putonghua - that's more than 70 per cent of preschools listed in the SCMP Good Schools Guide, reflecting strong demand for bilingual education among parents." What a great place for children to grow up in Hong Kong and to experience multilingual play in kindergartens and at home.Hongkong - a place where children traditionally grow up multilingually - does encourage and support early language acquisition for all their young pre-school and school children. If a language is acquired later in life the brain gets activated differently and the language cannot be acquired in quite the same way as a native speaker does.
The scientists are now equipped to measure more accurately activity in the brain and can prove some of their hypotheses. Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Laura-Ann Petitto shares her findings:
"We also saw spillover into other content areas: better mathematical processing, better on tasks that required complex relations," she says. "So this big language area has a spillover effect into giving the child higher cognitive advantages. These advantages are preserved across the lifespan."
Another team's research is now finding that bilingual brains are better protected from Alzheimer's disease, she adds."
Read more here: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/family-education/article/1716250/bilingual-children-may-have-lower-alzheimers-risk
Our kids are very lucky today that we have access to so many wonderful educational and playful toys so that they can acquire new language skills in a more relaxed and fun way. Our team at "Discover English with Ben & Bella" has worked on an immersive multimedia English learning program which kids enjoy watching, interacting and playing with. Children love to use our sticker book over and over again or learn to sing along to English songs. Check out these fun games on our homepage: www.benandbella.com.
The debate has been going on for a long time - do kids need to start to be instructed at earlier ages to close the gap between disadvantaged and more privileged children? Will kids not be able to learn enough to be ready for the 21st century? These questions are a hot topic in education, schools, governments and parent groups.
"Ben & Bella" engages kids in a playful and fun way so that learning is not the key issue but being immersed or playing games that are actually interesting and engaging for the child. We developed our games, stories and programmes according to the newest research and ideas about immersive and natural learning. Children "learn" English in the same way as they learn their mother tongue - by hearing, mimicking and playing with words and sounds.The latest research suggests that early academic instruction does not provide long-term success but it might be actually the other way around. Children learn through play and play-based learning seems the way to go. Very early academic instruction might actually confuse kids and make them want to learn even less: Read more here in the NY Times.
Looking at Early Childhood Education from an economic point of view can be very interesting: brain science tells us that supporting children when they are very young is a lot more cost-efficient than waiting until they are school-aged. This is the conclusion of a recently published report from the Bridespan Group and the Pritzker Children's Initiative.
"1. Ninety percent of physical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, when a baby forms 700 new neural connections per second.These are the 10 of the most important findings of the report:
2. When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82 percent chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45 percent chance for children who are not school ready.
3. Later in life, at-risk children who do not get high-quality early childhood experiences are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become teen parents, and 60 percent less likely to attend college.
4. Comprehensive early interventions that combine health, nutrition, and learning have the potential to reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension and high blood sugar, well into adulthood.
5. Investment in high-quality early childhood programs for at-risk children from birth to age five delivers a 7–10 percent [annual] return on investment through better education, health, social and economic outcomes, increased productivity, and the reduced need for social spending.
6. Lifetime earnings gains from increased enrollment in early childhood education would outweigh the costs of these programs (the estimated gain in lifetime income per participant is $9,166 to $30,851 after subtracting the cost of the programs).
7. Combined annual per capita public spending at the state and federal level on education for six- to eighteen-year-olds is nearly four times as high as spending on children from birth to five.
8. The United States ranks 31st in a group of 32 developed nations in the percentage of public education dollars allocated to early childhood.
9. Evidence-based home visitation programs reached only 115,000 children in 2014, an estimated 2.5 percent of the need.
10. Over the 2011–12 school year, the proportion of children in three- and four-star [child-care and education] centers with age-appropriate skills increased from 33 percent to nearly 66 percent."
Read the full article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-21/ten-reasons-why-early-childhood-education-pays-off