An Itsy Bitsy Chance to Explore

One of my first introductions into a more international children's world began during a playgroup in Qatar. The kids played for a while with random toys, and then the moms gathered around in a circle to sing familiar children's songs. I was familiar with most of the songs until I got to "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Except I was in a room full of British moms who sang the song "Incy Wincy Spider." Most of the lyrics are the same, but a few of the words stray and suddenly my eyes had been opened to the possibility of things outside the American world.

Fast forward a year, and we had found ourselves in Sweden. Again, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" made his appearance at a Swedish/English playground this time as "Imse Vimse Spindel." The tune varied a little and the words in were, of course, in Swedish. Quite frankly, this is my FAVORITE version of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Never has a spider climbing up a water spout sounded so adorable and whimsical.

My children's exposure to another language was brief. My son attended four months of Swedish preschool and within 6 weeks he was speaking and understanding it. He was 2 1/2 years old. We were singing all the favorites in Swedish (Row Row your Boat, Ba Ba Black Sheep, Little Cabin in the Wood). I am reminded by a good friend, who is Austrian and a master of languages, how spongelike little young brains are for soaking up other languages. She mentioned something like until the age of 7 children have this natural ability to understand and separate languages. I have no idea how scientific that data is, but I did have a few other foreign language teachers back up that statement.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Two of my friends are extending their current preschool to a a bilingual one: Tiny Explorers. The best part is it's for kids 18 months to three years. This is doubly as awesome because it's near impossible to even find part-time preschool for kids under the age of two let alone a bilingual one. Do I think my son's four-month exposure to a foreign language helped develop his brain at age 2? Yep! I know that being exposed to a foreign language at any age, especially a young one, helps develop and exercise the brain in a completely different way. So yes, it does make your kid smarter.

Tiny Explorers is having an open house next week so if you live in the Northern Virginia (Reston) area and are looking for a school or are even curious about the bilingual factor (which I wholeheartedly applaud), please stop by next week and visit.

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