Can learning a second language as a toddler give your child a cognitive edge over kids who wait until high school French class? The authors of a recent study believe the answer is “Oui.”
Among toddlers as young as two, bilingual youngsters outscored their monolingual counterparts in the area known as “executive functioning.” To toddlers, this comes down to sorting shapes, but for older kids and adults, executive functioning includes important mental tasks such as planning, strategizing, organizing and goal-setting.
These skills are highly relevant to the ever-hot topics of ADHD and autism, as children (and adults) diagnosed with these disorders typically have impaired executive function.
The bilingual and monolingual children in the study demonstrated no difference in basic cognitive skills, however, and their vocabulary size (whether from one language or two combined) was the same.
Parents who want to help their child develop early executive functioning skills through bilingualism might consider a bilingual caregiver, an immersion preschool or a child-appropriate foreign language program such as Little Pim or MUZZY. Or better yet, dust off that old college Spanish textbook and have the whole family learn a second language together (it’s good for , too).