My husband and I will be moving to Chile in January for a year due to my husband's work, and we'll be taking our 2 children with us who will be 3 years and 3 months old when we go. I love Chile and I'm really excited about the move - can't wait!
My son currently attends a preschool in the UK where we currently live, and I'd like for him to attend a preschool in Chile so that he mixes with other children. My husband's work have recommended a large commercial nursery with lots of branches all over Santiago where we will be staying (Vitamina). However, am I right in thinking that this nursery isn't multilingual, that the staff will only speak Spanish?
Neither my son nor myself really speak Spanish. I've had lessons but am still very basic (present tense only!), and my son's knowledge has come from the BBC Muzzy language system and Dora the Explorer - it's very hard to tell how much, if any, he understands. Also, Chilean Spanish sounds very different to Spanish Spanish. He's keen to learn though, we've got him some Spanish vocab books for young children and he likes reading them and he often asks what English words would be in Spanish, and he'll spontaneously say 'hola' and 'graçias' appropriately. He's been to Chile a few times already.
I'm not sure if it would be a good or bad thing to send him to a preschool where he doesn't yet speak the language. On one hand I'm thinking it might be great for him as he's so young he may well pick up the language really quickly, and he could really benefit from the experience. On the other hand I'm worried it would be really confusing and upsetting for him (I have nightmares about him asking for the potty and no one understanding him). He's not great with change - he's recently moved up a class at his current preschool and he's not happy about it as it's 'different' (even though he knows all the staff and the room), and he's very clingy with tears when I drop him off in the morning. He's fine when I pick him up in the afternoon however.
I won't be working when I'm out there so I could take care of him myself, but I'm really keen for him to socialise with other children. From what I understand there isn't much in the way of preschool classes or parent and toddler groups like there is in the UK (although I may be mistaken, please let me know if I'm wrong).
Does anyone have any advice on whether or not sending him to a foreign language (for him) preschool would be a bad idea?
Also, if anyone knows of any bilingual English-Spanish nurseries in Santiago please could you get in touch as that would be great. And does anyone have any comments (good or bad) about Vitamina?
Many thanks in advance for any advice!
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I had my daughter watch TV in spanish for a few weeks before entering school, figuring that at least she would be used to hearing it when she got there. Some jardins have a transitional entry period when school begins, where the child first visits for an hour with mom, then stays a little longer every day alone for the first week. Believe me, they are used to kids who are frightened by new environments and they have ways to deal with it.
Best of luck whatever you decide.
I think the decision to send your child to preschool is very personal. However, I would like to share my experience raising bilingual children and my opinion on what could be done in your situation.
My husband and I speak fluent Spanish. In our home (in the USA), we speak Spanish to our kids from the time they are born. Their life outside of the home is all in English and they learned it just by interacting with others at play, running errands, movies, etc. I never had to teach them English, they just picked it up.
It sounds to me that your child wants to learn Spanish and What you are doing with him to get him started is great.
Now my opinion: January is summer in Chile and most kids are on vacation. Instead of sending him to school right away, I would give him some time to warm up to the language and culture for a couple of months. Meet with the Facebook moms mentioned above, take him to the park to play with other kids, etc.
Toddlers are a sponge of knowledge. So your child will not have any problems learning Spanish. Keep doing what you are doing; watch videos in Spanish, read to him, sing songs, try using the basic words that you know in your everyday life mixed with English if necessary. With all this, if you decide to put him in school, he will do just fine.
I hope this help and best luck with everything.
My name is Ximena, I'm Chilean and lived in Australia for 5 years where my 3 years old child was born. I recently came back to Santiago and went through the same as you are going through!. I am happy to share with you my experience. My email is -no email- , write me if you wish. Regards. Ximena
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Hello and welcome. Are you looking for a preschool/nursery for your child? This thread is a bit old. Why not post a new one and say something about yourselves and what sort of place you are looking for and how long you expect to be in Chile.
Bring your child along for a visit. See how she responds to the school and the teachers. Do they seem interested in getting to know her? Are the activities ones she'll enjoy? By watching how she reacts you'll have a better idea whether a preschool is a good fit.
We live in Finland but we will be spending more and more time in Chile in the future. He is only 4 months but we are already working on a project with a friend of mine who has been a teacher here and who is also a researcher. We will have an educational project based on the Finnish system but adjusted to the Chilean guidelines so it is accepted there.
A proper school perhaps is too complicated (paperwise) so I am not sure we will attempt that, maybe we will start with a free system and a small number of children who will be taking free exams at the Ministry of Education. The system will be of course bilingual, some activities in Spanish, some activities in English. So far we have a small group of parents interested. If this helps anyone, just contact me, everybody is welcome, but it will start in about 2 years.