A toddler’s brain is like a sponge, where their inquisitive mind absorbs new knowledge every day. The early years of a child are without a doubt most essential to their literacy formation and language development.
To spark your toddler’s interest in Chinese, start by exposing them to the language as early as possible. By incorporating Chinese into everyday activities from a young age, preschoolers wouldn’t even notice that they are learning a second language.
However, if you have concerns that your child will struggle to learn Chinese as it is not commonly spoken at home, you can give them a head start by enrolling them in a Chinese class for toddlers.
With options like a Mandarin playgroup and Chinese immersion preschool, how can you decide which is suitable for your child?
Here are the pros and cons of both choices.
Why Choose a Mandarin Playgroup
For young toddlers, the shorter hours (usually three to four hours) in playgroup makes an ideal start for them to be away from home, where they can learn and socialise with other children.
Children who are being cared for by helpers or grandparents who do not speak Mandarin will greatly benefit from the interactions with trained Chinese teachers. In addition, toddlers get to participate in fun and engaging multi-sensory activities conducted in Chinese, such as storytelling and learning songs.
However, the shorter hours in a mandarin playgroup also means that children get limited exposure to Chinese as teachers are unable to incorporate a wide variety of everyday activities.
Compared to preschools, playgroups tend to have a more relaxed curriculum. If you wish to have a more immersive learning environment for your toddler to build his fluency in Mother Tongue, you can also look into Chinese immersion preschools.
Why choose a Chinese Immersion Preschool
Children who are ready for a more structured curriculum can enrol in a Chinese immersion preschool, where Mandarin is infused in the curriculum to develop their confidence and communication skills in Chinese.
Unlike playgroups, preschools have longer hours which provide children more exposure by speaking and listening to Chinese throughout the day. At MindChamps Chinese PreSchool, Chinese is used as the main language of instruction for all lessons in PG and N1, except for enrichment programmes like MindChamps Reading and Writing™ and Creativity and Theatrical Strategies™.
The nurturing and immersive learning environment at MindChamp Chinese Preschool allows toddlers to develop fluency and confidence in Chinese more naturally and comfortably.
In addition, Chinese is integrated into a wide variety of activities that prepare children for the change in teaching styles, environment and routines to equip them to be ready for primary school.
MindChamps Chinese PreSchool also incorporates a Chinese Culture Appreciation Programme where children get to learn the rich Chinese culture and history through lessons, arts and cultural appreciation activities, such as clay modelling, painting and calligraphy. This helps children to have a better appreciation for their Chinese roots and culture.
Learning Chinese doesn’t have to be an insurmountable hurdle for your child. Boost their confidence by nurturing their love for the language from a young age, so that they will not face anxieties towards Chinese before going to primary school.
Written by Susan Koh