Oct 08

Does Learning Spanish or Mandarin Make Kids Forget English?

It’s natural to worry that learning a second language will make your child forget English. Although adults seem to forget one thing as soon as they learn another, kids’ brains work differently – especially in language.

Learning Spanish or Mandarin Will Not Interfere with Remembering and Using English


Because a child’s first language is such a significant part of his or her life, your child will naturally learn the fundamentals of English grammar without being taught. Once they reach school age, of course, they’ll be formally taught grammar rules. According to psychologists, this unconscious learning process is stored very early on in the brain and acts as a skill one can never forget, like riding a bike. In fact, language scientists have found that learning another language actually improves a child’s ability to speak and write grammatically correct English.

Moreover, numerous studies involving children learning other languages found that by encouraging children to contrast and compare the rules of another language, their ability to differentiate between the two languages is dramatically improved. This minimizes or even eliminates the potential for the second language to interfere with using the English language.

The "Bilingual" Brain

Did you know that the brain is like a muscle? Like any other muscle, the brain needs continuous exercise to keep it functioning as its optimal rate. One of the best ways to exercise the brain is by learning how to speak, read and write in another language. By utilizing neurons that are vital for relaying messages throughout the brain, this maintains the high-order operations that the brain performs, such as organizing, memorizing details, and expressing ideas.

Children exposed to two languages from an early age often develop what neuroscientists call a "bilingual brain" that is capable of processing languages through the brain's left hemisphere. However, children who are older than 12 often experience more difficulty learning another language because researchers discovered that older "bilinguals" experience the language learning through the right hemisphere of the brain, which seems to delay the ability to "pick up" another language. (This could also explain why adults have a harder time with a new language.)

Further, when children have the ability to express themselves in a second language, it heightens their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas in their native language.

Why It’s So Important to Learn Another Language

Living in a world that’s as culturally and linguistically diverse as ours, knowing a second language like Spanish or Mandarin is becoming increasingly necessary for children. The good news is, that knowledge won’t affect their English.

Sep 24

Questions to Ask During Back to School Night

It’s that time of year again. Your child is heading to school, backpack and lunchbox firmly in place, to join their classmates for school. While your child may or may not have back to school anxiety, you may have reservations of your own.

To ease your conscience, many Preschool Directors are willing to sit down and answer any questions you may have about your child, his/her interactions with new classmates, and beyond. To get you started, Jump! has compiled a list of smart questions to ask as your child starts school.

Questions to Ask Your Child's Teacher During Back to School Night



What is your philosophy?

If you haven’t already gone on a private tour, consider asking the preschool director to accompany you around the center, personally meeting the teachers your child will interact with, and asking your child’s main teacher their philosophy, training, and qualifications. This will ensure that you have a solid idea of the environment your child will spend the next nine months in. Not to mention, if you have a relationship with your child’s teacher, your child is bound to feel more comfortable because of that connection.

How do you discipline your students?

Discipline is one of the most important facets of preschool education. How does a teacher focus on the strengths and weaknesses of a child? If one child is unruly, how will the teacher react? Will they lash out, discipline them with anger, give the silent treatment, or passively ignore it?

Since discipline is essential, we recommend you brief your child’s teacher on how your child reacts to discipline. Perhaps he/she shuts down at harsh discipline, or only responds to “tough love.” In either case, it’s very important to make sure your child succeeds in a way that’s best for them, and by fostering a relationship with the teacher, you are ensuring that success.

What are your academic standards?

Depending on which level your child is at, academics may be assessed loosely, or, if your child is at a more transitionary phase where grades are introduced, some insight will be useful. If this teacher is known to be tough on academics, you will have enough preparation at home to help with homework and assignments. Or, perhaps your child loves a challenge – in which case, you can ask the teacher to keep an eye on his progress to prevent boredom.

What can I do to facilitate academic and social success?

It’s always important to know how to answer the age-old question: “Mom, can you help me with my homework?” Your child’s teacher can provide valuable insights to help retention, knowledge, and learning progress at home. Perhaps this means challenging your child with mental math flashcards, or writing exercises. The best way to find out is to ask.

Do you have any references?

It’s always important to connect with other parents that have had successful experiences – they can act as a support system for you and make the transition for you and your child much easier. If you’re experiencing some doubt, helpful references can clear your misgivings and rest easily that your child is getting the care he/she needs.

In all, the most important reality to face is that your child will be successful – your job in asking questions is to discover how to continue that success.

Sep 17

Still Managing Back To School Anxiety?



Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Back to School Anxiety

As a fun summer winds down to an end, many young children may experience anxiety about returning to school this Fall – especially if your child is an incoming transfer student. Before the first day, many children may pretend to have a fever or freeze right before they open the school doors, asking themselves: Will I meet new friends? Will the teacher like me? Will the homework be too hard?

The good news is, back to school anxiety is normal in young children and is easy to quell once you pinpoint the cause.

Finding the Root of Your Child’s Anxiety

Talking with your child is the best way to get to the heart of the issue. If your child is shy you may ask her/him how many children he/she thinks will be in the class to help them start talking about their fears and feelings. For some shy children, joining a large class may be the source of their anxiety. For others, they might be anxious that they won’t have enough friends or the teacher may not be nice. If your child is a high achiever they may worry that they won’t receive the best grades in the class, or even fail.

If your child is worried about academics, be sure to remind them of all the times they have succeeded and that the teacher and you will be there to provide support when they need it.

If your child is shy, acknowledge their struggle to accept an overwhelming environment with new students they haven’t met before. Remind them that at one point, their best friend was a stranger and that maybe the next stranger they meet will be their next best friend.

If your child is anxious about changing schools, try role-playing. Pretend to be a new friend that your child will meet at school and have a friendly conversation with them. If that works, keep changing the setting. Pretend to be a student at the cafeteria, or at recess. With time, they will slowly become more comfortable with making new friends.

Establishing a Continuance Plan

Once your child starts their new school year, keep the conversations flowing. Try not to settle for “good” and “fine” or shrugs when you ask how their day went at school. Continue the communication to pinpoint if your child is still feeling anxious or shy.

If your child still feels anxious, consider talking to his/her teacher and getting to the root of your child’s anxiety. Perhaps you can suggest more teacher interaction with your child or placing your child into small-groups to facilitate interaction and friendship.

At home, you can take your child to the park to make friends with other children to provide a more familiar, comfortable environment. Gently encouraging your child to step outside their boundaries to make a new friend can build a confidence will work just as effectively.

Most importantly, your child will always know that he/she has a home at Jump! 

Sep 06

Make Sure Your Child's Language Lessons "Stick" With this Easy Tip

Teaching your child a new language is one of the best things you can do for them. However, some parents find that motivating a child to practice is difficult.

A variety of factors contribute to boosting motivation, such as positive incentives, or a safe environment to practice new skills. The most important skill, however, is simply ensuring the child practices enough to retain his or her new language skills.

So, how can you make learning Spanish and/or Mandarin education fun so that your child is willing to practice?

How About… a Tent?

It may sound a little out of the ordinary, but here at Jump! we recommend a method that works every time: set up a tent.


The tent doesn’t have to be anything grandiose — a $30 pop tent from Wal-Mart is all you need. Even blankets draped over the backs of some dining room chairs will do. For an extra bonus, line the tent with twinkle lights and set down some colorful pillows in cultural parallel to the language your child is learning.

The important factor here is that you create a special location that's "fun" and geared towards at-home language immersion. The tent could be in your backyard, in the living room, or in the rec room. The goal is to create a location where, once your child steps into the tent, he or she feels excitement. Your job is to direct that excitement towards language-learning.

The Secret Ingredient to Mastering the Tent Method:

Spend at least 30 minutes a day in the tent, and when you’re in there, your child can only speak Spanish or Mandarin.

Consider it a game: perhaps the tent “transports” you to a Spanish or Mandarin-speaking country — and the only way to communicate with each other is through this new language.

Decorate the tent to include Spanish or Mandarin-themed clothing or accessories. Use lots of color. You might even bring along a flashlight and music CD’s in Spanish or Mandarin to make it even more authentic (and fun!).

However, once your child understands the language-only rule, it's time to practice. Don’t worry about what you talk about… As long as you do so in Spanish or Mandarin, there are no rules.

Before you get into the tent, review your child’s lesson plan for the day. Once inside, go over it together. Work on the language together if you are both learning. Jump!’s curriculum is very thorough and offers vocabulary words to follow if you yourself are learning Spanish or Mandarin. You can easily follow along.

Most importantly, make sure the activity is fun for both of you. It should not be a punishment to practice in this way.

Trust Us, the Tent Method Works

The Tent Method is positive reinforcement at its best. As your child learns to speak Spanish or Mandarin in the tent, he or she will become more comfortable with the learning process. Language-learning aside, the important factor is not just that he or she is practicing Spanish or Mandarin, but that the child is receiving — and enjoying — the one-on-one time with you.

Ultimately, your child will effectively practice learning another language while developing a closer bond with you – what more could you ask for?

Jun 09

How to Prevent Summer Break From Pausing Language Growth

The final bell rings. Your child tosses away all of their papers, stashes their backpack somewhere deep in their closets, and leaps into a summer, free of homework and classrooms. However fun this may be, it has been proven time and time again that not revisiting any of that old homework sets you back both mentally and academically.

In fact, summer learning loss is a common issue that parents encounter over the summer with their children. If there is no reinforcement, children can lose several months worth of academics and start the school year on a setback. For language-learning specifically, this is even easier to forget since language classes don’t make up the majority of the academic experience.

To maintain your child’s language growth and retain the lessons they’ve learned either in school or after-school, we have compiled 5 ways to reinforce their learning and even advance them over the summer break.

Set Aside Time Intervals for Speaking

At Jump!, we believe conversation and exposure are key. If your child has been learning Spanish all year in a classroom and you want them to continue over the summer, try having them watch their favorite TV show -- but with subtitles in the target language. Or, if you’re going on a long road trip, play some music in the target language to get them moving. These little integrations are key in sustaining language development.

Even more so, setting aside designated “language time” is incredibly helpful for preventing a summer slide in learning. Integrate these into weekly, or even daily “meetings” where you go through flashcards, watch a movie, or even have full conversations (if you speak the target language). We believe that the more exposure, the better.

Grammar Exercises

We know, we hear the universal groan, too. However, grammar exercises are essential when learning a new language, and when coupled with having actual conversations, can be extremely powerful.

If you or a member in your family speaks the target language, conversation is key in learning grammar. The more you do it, the more you learn. If you don’t speak the target language, try working through flashcards with your child, offering fun rewards for getting the right verb conjugation. It can be tedious, but essential for learning any new language

Use Fun and Games

Now, it’s easier than ever to make learning digital. If you have an iPad, tablet, or laptop, you can use games online to help them learn. There are a plethora of learning apps like FluentU that are fantastic for learning Mandarin and Spanish. (Read this post for more iPad apps great for learning Spanish.)

This is a sure-fire way to get your child excited to learn more of the target language -- what could be more fun than playing with an iPad?

Improve Reading Comprehension

If your child is more drawn to books than tablets, consider buying books in the target language that they can try to read. We realize this is more challenging and can be frustrating for many children, but working through even one page a day is helpful for developing a more robust vocabulary and a deeper ability for reading comprehension.

Enroll in a Summer Camp

If the time in your schedule doesn’t allow for any of these tips, or you don’t know enough of the target language to help your more advanced child, we recommend enrolling in some sort of summer program that encourages language immersion.

Here at Jump!, we understand how summer can set children back by months if they don't maintain the skills they've learned during the school year. This is why we created our Summer Camp and Saturday programs. As a full-time (or even part-time) student in a summer camp, your child’s skills are sure to be reinforced and enhanced as the summer continues, leaving them to be very well-prepared for the school year.

We hope these tips helped you decide on an action plan for this summer, and how to maintain your child’s language skills! If you have any questions on language development, or want to inquire about our summer camp program, feel free to call any of our centers in Livingston, Edison, or Westfield.

Mar 16

4 Ways to Spot and Nurture Talent In Your Child

Author: Dana Matthews



I really liked the article "4 Ways to Spot and Nurture Talent In Your Child."  As a parent, you may not realize your child’s talent but the good news is it takes a village to raise a child.  While my daughter was in kindergarten, the class had an art show. During the show a good friend mentioned how my daughter had a good eye for color combinations and was really impressed by her project. The next day my friend gave my daughter a professional art set. The set was in a beautiful wood carrying case and contained water color paints, oil paints, colored pencils, art chalk and everything else! My daughter loved this art set and looked forward to drawing, painting and coloring with her new set. We started getting books about artists and going to art shows. Six years later she still loves to paint and still has her first art carrying case. I am definitely not an artist, so it was great that my friend identified her talent. Who knows where this can lead?

By the way, the painting above is not my daughter’s painting!

Read the full article on the Child Development Institute site

Dec 06

Six Reasons Why Your Bilingual Child Might Begin Using Only One Language

It can be a challenge to raise a bilingual child and provide an environment where he or she can be equally exposed to both languages. Many of our dual-language families come to us with this concern, and we understand how hard it is to raise a bilingual child (speaking, reading and writing in both languages). That is the reason Jackie Sanin created Jump! Immersion School.

Jump! is an environment where your child is immersed in Spanish or Mandarin, both the language and the culture. We want to help ensure your child truly appreciates, values, and is proud to be bilingual!

Read the most common reasons your bilingual child might begin using only one language and some practical solutions at TheHuffingtonPost.com:

6 Reasons Why Your Bilingual Child Might Drop Your Language»

Apr 05

How Parents Can Support Language Learning at Home



Did you know that you don't have to understand the language in order to help your child learn it? Here’s what you can do to help support your child's language learning, whether or not you speak it! (list from GreatKids):

How You Can Help:

  • Help your child make time to practice.
  • Have your student teach you to say something in the language every day.
  • Find cultural events connected to the language and culture being studied.
  • Ask the teacher for resources your child can use at home.
  • Provide videos, books and music in the language.
  • Look for opportunities outside the classroom, like a summer language camp
  • Volunteer to organize a career day that features jobs that use skills in more than one language.
  • Be an advocate.

Read the full article at the GreatKids by GreatSchools website:
Learning a second language: How parents can help»

Mar 31

Learning to Read in Spanish & English



Here's an article that does a great job explaining some of the similarities and differences in literacy instruction depending on the language. It also suggests the following activities you can do at home to complement your child's language instruction (list from ¡Colorín Colorado!):

Learning at Home: Tips for Parents

  • Create small places at home where your child can study, read and play. Areas set aside for learning and play are important for your child's development.
  • Stock the study area with books, pencils, pens, and paper. Encourage your child to read and then write stories using Spanish.
  • Have a play area where there are opportunities to play with materials. Provide labels for the materials (e.g., plastelina [clay], bloques [blocks], computadora [computer], rompecabezas [puzzles]).
  • Read aloud to your child in Spanish to help build vocabulary and comprehension skills. 
  • Provide opportunities to talk to your child about the world around him. Talk about things at the supermarket, during walks, or things you are doing as you cook or clean. 

Read the full article and even more tips at the ¡Colorín Colorado! website:
Early Literacy Instruction in Spanish: Teaching the Beginning Reader»

Jump! Immersion School embraces early literacy in both Spanish and English to ensure that your child reaches their full global potential!

1 2 Next