Does being bilingual make your child smarter? Now that’s a big question!
Research has shown that bilingual (or multilingual) children have increased cognitive function. At a very basic level it means that if you’re bilingual, your brain is really great at doing multiple things at once!
Pat your head and rub your tummy? No problem! Hearing spoken words + seeing written words, then recalling which was actually spoken vs. written? Yep!
Switching between one language and another is a true cognitive workout for a person of any age, and simply exposing your child to a second language (other than their native language) can help boost cognition so their brain is primed to be amazing at critical thinking, problem-solving, and paying attention to important details. How cool is that?
When it comes to young children, every interaction is an opportunity to educate and connect in a way that helps them understand the world around them. When I wrote Love Wings I wanted to find a way to integrate Māori language into the storyline as it’s such an important part of New Zealand’s culture.
It’s been shown that bilingual preschoolers were better at understanding other people’s feelings, intentions, and perceptions than pre-schoolers who only knew one language. Other studies have indicated that bilingual/multilingual children may have better memories than those who only know one language.
Bilingual children tend to be more flexible thinkers as well, because they’ve had to learn to switch between languages during their day-to-day lives.
So, by snuggling up and reading some Love Wings together, you can actually help your child’s linguistic abilities more than if you were reading a regular children’s book.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t include Te Reo phrases and words in Love Wings for the possible cognitive benefits. I think that as New Zealanders, we should celebrate our country’s unique heritage through written and visual creative. Te Reo can be fun no matter what your ethnicity or cultural background is!