~ Archive for Early Childhood Learning ~

Language Immersion

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There have been several studies done over the years that suggest that students who attend language immersion schools have long term academic benefits when compared to their counterparts in traditional schools. As more and more language immersion schools pop up all over the country, more and more qualitative data is available in this area. It has long been known that cognitive development is significantly impacted by the environment and a student’s surroundings. How does language immersion affect this process? Well it seems that for many students the process of learning multiple languages actually enhances the development of critical thinking and problem solving at a young age. The data appears to show a link between basic problem solving skills at specific ages and the amount of time spent in a language immersion schooling environment. This is of course correlated data, and should not immediately be looked at as causal.  However, it does open the door to an interesting discussion. What other types of benefits could language immersion provide aside from enhanced problem solving? Are there any areas where students’ are not as proficient as they otherwise would have been in an English only setting? The pros and cons of immersion learning will continue to be a subject of interest for many years to come as our world becomes more globally connected.

Early Childhood Learning Part 1: Building Confidence Part 1

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Far too often when students are young they are infected with the idea that they “aren’t good at ______” (fill in the blank with any subject or activity) . This is happening to our children at younger and younger ages and is truly crippling them in ways that parents and teachers don’t even realize.  Children enter school without any “learned limitations” and are sponges for any and all material, both good and bad. As they start learning, there is a natural separation of “good students” from “not so good students”. This is where the damage begins. Teachers, quite naturally, begin separating students into ability groups so that they can more effectively address the needs of the students who are at disparate levels. This in and of itself is fine, however, it is usually accompanied by a far more damaging component: the-you-aren’t-good-at-X seed.

Imagine a mother who is picking up her 1st grade daughter from school and decides that before she and her daughter head home, she wants to speak to her daughter’s teacher on her progress. She pleasantly greets the teacher who smiles and starts highlighting all of little Suzie’s great accomplishments. She explains how well she is doing in Art and Science, how well behaved she is, and what a pleasure she is to have in class. All very nice things, but then she drops the hammer: “Suzie has been struggling a little in math, she is still at grade level but it’s not her strongest subject. ” A seemingly innocuous comment that plants the I’m-not-good-at-math seed. We all have seen the results of this seed, as Suzie grows older more of her teachers will water and fertilize this seed. Her parents will  do the same when giving friends and family updates on Suzie’s progress saying things like “Suzie’s doing great in everything Art,Science, her behavior is great, but like me, she’s not too good at math.”

We’ll delve into the damaging consequences of this all-too-common scenario in detail in the upcoming posts.

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