Mandarin for tiniest tots at the tiger mum nursery
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.’