In the exceptional FREE e-Book Talent Re: Defined, Nikki Bush and Raymond de Villiers lay out what talented people should be able to do if they are to thrive in the ‘new world of work’ – a world very different from the one we have now, or one we’ve ever known. This is a scary thought for parents, as we ask ourselves how do we adequately prepare our children for something we can’t see or imagine? What they should learn in order to be successful in the future?
What skills should they have, and where/how should I encourage them, if I don’t even know myself?
These are all the hard questions that 21st-century parents are having to ask themselves, and sadly there are no simple answers. However, this book does give a glimmer of hope into the characteristics that we should be developing in our children in order to better prepare them for the uncertain future ahead; and when I held that up in light of the decisions I am making about my child’s preschool education at LinguaMites – I was encouraged as a mom that I was giving them the best possible start on the path to success in this ever-changing world of ours.
The book highlights 6 areas where high performing individuals will function in new ways that distinguish themselves from the crowd, and have successful work lives, in the future.
For the purpose of this article, we have focused in on 3 of them to see why a multilingual preschool is the best possible environment for children to start developing these important skills:
1. Tolerance of Different:
From the moment you lay eyes on our classrooms and the layout of our school, you know that one of our key messages to our children through the diversity of language and culture is that different is not wrong, it’s just different. Children move between 3 completely different languages and cultural environments with ease each day and learn the subtle message of diversity through the way that each teacher interacts with them in their own language and way.
The customs specific to Chinese stay within the context of the Chinese classroom and are different when you head to isiZulu and the teacher there. Children become aware of difference and diversity from a young age and their tolerance for different is much higher than a child who would learn from one teacher of one culture and language in their preschool years.
A by-product of this constant exposure to difference is the adaptability that LinguaMites students have. They are able to not just communicate in 3 languages, but develop 3 ways to greet and introduce themselves, with 3 personas and names to go with it (pronunciation of a child’s name may change in isiZulu, and all children are given a Chinese name in characters in order to identify themselves in the Chinese class).
They realise that things are more fluid, not always fixed or pre-determined, and they live happily in this space.
3. Experiment and Failure:
If you have ever tried to learn a new language you know that trial and error is par for the course. It’s more difficult as an adult because we don’t like to look and sound stupid (we have lots of inhibitions) but children don’t feel the same about experimenting and failure, and in fact are exposed daily to correction in their pronunciation, sentence construction and grammar at LinguaMites.
They take this kind of gentle leading with grace and enthusiasm as they love learning. And this leads them into become individuals who accept failure, experimentation, correction and redirection much more than a child who is not exposed to this on a daily basis in the formative years. This kind of experimenting and failure will be an asset in the future, and set them apart from their monolingual counterparts.