Man­darin for tini­est tots at the tiger mum nurs­ery

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Char­lotte Wace

THEY’RE the pushy par­ents who fe­ro­ciously hunt down the top schools they think will give their chil­dren the best start in life.

Now ‘tiger mums’ are go­ing a step fur­ther and rush­ing to snap up places at a new nurs­ery which of­fers lessons in Man­darin for one-year-olds – and point­ers on public speak­ing. Some par­ents have signed up be­fore their chil­dren are even born.

Sa­fari Kid, which is open­ing in Is­ling­ton, North Lon­don, in June, claims its cur­ricu­lum will put chil­dren up to two years ahead of their peers by the time they start school.

The nurs­ery is part of a chain founded in Cal­i­for­nia’s Sil­i­con Valley to cater for the chil­dren of tech­nol­ogy mag­nates. The com­pany also has branches in In­dia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the UAE.

Sa­fari Kid’s UK man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Gabrielle Oh, said it aimed to equip chil­dren ‘as much as pos­si­ble’ for life – both emo­tion­ally and aca­dem­i­cally.

She said: ‘It does vary de­pend­ing on how long they have been with us but we en­sure that on av­er­age, chil­dren are one to two years ahead of their peers.’

Ex­plain­ing why Man­darin is taught from such an early age, she added: ‘Chil­dren are like sponges – they are quick learn­ers. When adults learn a lan­guage, they have years of just us­ing their mother tongue but chil­dren don’t have that bar­rier.’

In­fants will be taught about money and do arith­metic from as early as pos­si­ble, and should be able to write in full sen­tences by the time they start pri­mary school.

Par­ents are given progress re­ports in 12 dif­fer­ent ar­eas at the end of every term. The re­ports rate chil­dren from their ‘world un­der­stand­ing’ to their skills in ‘public speak­ing and con­fi­dence’, and maths, sci­ence and English.

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Linda Blair said learn­ing a se­cond lan­guage so early was ad­van­ta­geous.

‘Chil­dren start speak­ing a lit­tle later, but what they gain in cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­ity is fan­tas­tic,’ she added.

How­ever, some ex­perts be­lieve there is a dan­ger in plac­ing too much pres­sure on chil­dren be­fore they start com­pul­sory full­time ed­u­ca­tion. Elaine Halligan, di­rec­tor of The Par­ent Prac­tice, said: ‘Par­ents have to stop think­ing that if we get our child into the best nurs­ery, then they will be suc­cess­ful – with the ul­ti­mate success com­ing at the end with the per­fect job.’

And Mar­garet Mor­ris­sey, of Par­ents OutLoud, said: ‘We are re­mov­ing any op­por­tu­nity for them to de­velop as hu­mans in re­la­tion­ships and form their own char­ac­ters be­fore we im­pose for­mal learn­ing on them. I can’t see any ev­i­dence that this is do­ing them any good.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.