At Tierra Encantada, we do everything we can to open doors for the little ones in our care. One of our ways of expanding the world is through Spanish immersion education. Kids in every classroom are listening to and learning in Spanish while in our care, and are often found speaking Spanish on the car ride home! Through immersion education, kids learn two languages, and are well on their way to becoming bilingual and biliterate (able to read in more than one language). These skill sets come with lots of cognitive and social benefits.
Learning bilingually can help little ones pick up on social cues- reading the cues in a situation and reacting and interacting accordingly. Additionally, bilingual learning can help with a practice known as task switching, pivoting from one idea, lesson or language to another. Both of these abilities- paying attention to cues and task switching- are part of executive function, a set of mental skills that include memory and focus. Bilingual individuals have an advantage in developing and solidifying these skills.
Diversity in the classroom, and learning about our diverse world, is an added benefit of bilingual education. Our teachers are native Spanish speakers from all over! While learning Spanish, we teach our little ones about the countries and areas the language is spoken all over the world and the culture that comes with each diverse place. Diversity exists within both the Spanish and English speaking world, and at Tierra Encantada we believe learning about that diversity makes us better!
Even if bilingual education is not pursued later on, the benefits of early education in a second language are long lasting, as it may be able to change brain structure early on and protect against age-related dementia. This brain preserving function is called cognitive reserve, a cerebral feature that connects once again with executive function.
In our centers, kids as young as 6 weeks of age are hearing both Spanish and English being spoken in their Tierra Encantada classroom. By the time kids in our centers reach the Pre-K age, they are speaking both languages in full sentences and holding conversations with lots of different individuals. Bilingual learning expands their world from the very beginning, and sets them up for success in lots of different ways.