HeadsUp! Montessori Bilingual Preschool
Chinese Language and Culture Program
The HeadsUp! Two-Worlds™ Approach features intensive instruction in Chinese language and culture. At the same time, the bilingual setting offers all the benefits of the regular preschool program: it provides an especially enriching environment in which children can grow to fulfill their full potential; it gives parents the same security of knowing their children are receiving the finest care and developmental guidance available; and it combines an innovative approach to early learning with traditional values and the joy of discovery.
The significant difference between the two programs is that the bilingual program is taught in two languages, Chinese (Mandarin) and English. Chinese is spoken exclusively for the first three hours of the day, regardless of the curriculum subject (except English); during this time, all teachers working with students are fluent in Mandarin. In the afternoon, students will use English for English-language activities as well as other subjects (except Chinese); during this period, all teachers are fluent in English, including bilingual teachers fluent in both languages.
The program is designed to appeal to a broad range of students whose families want them to be fully competent in a second language, regardless of their ethnicity or heritage. Because of its linguistic rigor and cultural emphases, it meets the needs of families with children of Chinese heritage, who are American born as well as those born in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and other countries, including students who were adopted by non- Asian American families. The program is not designed for children who are not fluent in English; they will instead be served in a regular preschool setting until their English is sufficiently developed to permit them to participate fully in a bilingual classroom.
HeadsUp!® is highly qualified to offer a bilingual Chinese program. With its affiliate programs, it has been teaching Chinese to over 400 students per year since 2006.
HeadsUp!® follows an eclectic approach to early learning, borrowing from the best model programs and making use of the most recent educational research. All preschool programs, including the bilingual program, use a modified Montessori curriculum incorporating art, music, and imaginative play into the traditional emphasis on practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, science, and cultural activities.
Students in regular preschool classrooms study both Chinese and Spanish at least twice a week. Spanish provides an important introduction to the Greek and Latin roots that are part of the foundation of the English language and serves as an important source of English vocabulary and grammatical awareness. Chinese, being based on an entirely different, non-alphabetic system, requires different cognitive awareness and skills (such as sensitivity to tones). Together, the two languages help create brain plasticity that contributes to fuller, more flexible cognitive skills. Students in the bilingual preschool program will have much more extensive exposure to Chinese (15 hours per week compared to 40 minutes per week). They will also receive instruction in Spanish.
The bilingual preschool classroom employs the same Montessori approach that is found in the regular preschool classroom, except that two languages are used instead of one. In the morning, the teacher heading the Montessori curriculum is a trained Montessori teacher who is also fluent in Chinese; similarly, in the afternoon, the Montessori coordinator is a trained Montessori teacher who is fluent in English.
The Chinese portion of the language curriculum focuses primarily on spoken language. When introduced, written language uses simplified characters and a phonetic system based on the Western alphabet. The cultural curriculum includes art, crafts, music, and dance, as well as modern cuisine, manners, and physical exercise.
During the English portion of the curriculum, students are exposed to a variety of subjects that are essential to Western humanism and rationalism–including history, science, literature, music, and art—as well as traditional American values such as individualism, entrepreneurship, and creativity.
Students in the bilingual preschool program participate in all of the subjects and activities that are part of the regular preschool program. These include math, language (both Chinese in the morning and English in the afternoon), science, history, art, music, Spanish, and free play. Students in kindergarten are all grouped together for two hours in the afternoon and participate in school readiness activities.