Kids grow up too fast. It feels like just when you figure out a stage of their development they move onto the next one. And before you know it, the decisions you made around their diets, their caregivers, their activities and their schools have determined the course they will take in life.
Doesn’t that seem scary? Because most of the time we don’t even make decisions with a long-range view in mind. Most often, our generation is looking at what’s on offer, what’s new, and what’s most convenient, not necessarily making parenting choices based on the long term affects and consequences.
Ballet on a Tuesday at the same place where I gym – cool, we’re in! Cousins heading off to soccer on Saturdays – sounds fun, we’ll do it! Gymnastics comes to the school for 30min on a Friday, sign us up! School down the road means the nanny can walk there and back – that’s helpful! We move from one frantic year to the next with schedules and plans that, while in each specific case are not bad, might not have been the very best use of our time, energy and resources for our children in that stage of life.
The truth is, we have a very small window of opportunity to invest in our children:
Needy babies become toddlers who shakily head off to preschool, preschoolers get more coordinated and social and become scholars, scholars learn to read and write and become pre-teens, pre-teens get their own social circle and become teenagers – and with that your parenting influence and the dependency your child once had on you, diminishes. It’s gone in a flash.
So it’s probably a good idea to take stock when your kids are still young, educate yourself, and get a long-range view for what you want to emphasize and focus on in the early years, because all the research tells us that the early years matter folks: Reading to them, spending time with them, healthy sleep and diet routines, and exposure to music matters. And most especially their Brain Development matters – good, healthy, brain development that creates neuropathways that will set them up for a successful future.
Exposure to additional language learning is arguably the best brain development you can give your child in their early years.
The investment of an additional language for 3 consistent and deliberate years will have enormous benefits on their brain because the constant need to shift attention between two or more languages makes the brain more efficient, perform better and solve problems more easily. It also makes learning languages easier and it makes children more adaptable.
Ballet, soccer, and gymnastics, are all good options for children to be exposed to and participate in, and certainly have their place in a child’s development and personality. But with limited time and resources, and knowing that the early years are so critical, there is a case for setting aside three years to develop their brain in new and significant ways in order to reap the long term benefits. You might still have the chance to master the plie later in life but you won’t be able to acquire near perfect pronunciation, or identify the tiny differences in a language’s tones after the age of (approximately) 7yrs.
There is this gift that we get with our children, this ‘window of opportunity’ where we get to make the most significant difference in their development, and we should not let it go by without grabbing it with both hands.
We should not settle for good, when we can give them the very best start in life. A 3-year investment into acquiring a new language is an investment you will never regret, that yields results long into the future. Your children will thank you.