Urdu daycares and preschools offer a perfect environment for young children to develop or preserve their knowledge of the Urdu language. Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan
and is most commonly used by the Muslim population in the Indian subcontinent. However, many linguists consider Urdu and Hindi "registers" of the same common language. Indeed, although they have different written forms, Hindi and Urdu share many common words and the same grammar. Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) is the fourth most widely-spoken language in the world
, and a common second language in the United States. Because of the popularity of the Urdu language and its mutual intelligibility with Hindi, Urdu immersion daycares and preschools are thus an excellent option for children of all backgrounds.
Instruction in Urdu immersion daycares can take several forms, including extracurricular activities, structured weekly curriculums, or full language immersion. Extracurricular instruction is irregular and often informal, tending to focus on basic vocabulary, cultural exploration, social development and play. Curriculum-based child care programs and preschools involve more formal instruction, which is usually offered a few hours each week. While using age-appropriate methods similar to those in curriculum-based facilities, full Urdu immersion preschools will have extended periods of the day or even entire days when Urdu is the only language spoken. Other times will be reserved for English or dual-language activities.
That said, teachers in Urdu daycare and preschool programs always want the children, especially infants and toddlers, to feel secure and comfortable. They will thus switch to your child's native language if he or she becomes overly confused or upset. This reduces stress and encourages learning, over time. Although Urdu language instruction can be found in child care centers
of all types, including large preschools
with robust extracurricular options, smaller home daycares
where the owner or main child care provider speaks Urdu are by far the most common. Parents seeking to promote Urdu-English bilingualism in their children should try to find a language immersion or curriculum-based child care program.
The first three or four years of life are an ideal time for a child to learn a second language, and doing so can provide many advantages in a child's cognitive and social development. Contrary to a common misconception, there has been no scientific link found between dual language learners and a delay in language development. Bilingual children have indeed been proven to consistently reach early education milestones at the same rate as their English-only peers. In fact, some studies have found that learning a second language can increase the rate of English language acquisition. If you're still on the edge about whether or not a bilingual daycare and preschool is a good option for your family, read this post about 5 reasons why your child should attend a language immersion preschool
You don't even need to be speak Urdu for your child to have a successful and enjoyable experience in an Urdu daycare. Language skills are transferable and focusing only on English language development at home, along with enthusiastic support for your child's work in Urdu should be enough. To learn more about how you can help your child learn Urdu, read these 6 tips for raising multilingual children
. If you would rather avoid a structured academic environment or if bilingual preschools and daycare centers are not available near you, extracurricular exploration of the Urdu language can still lead to improved cognitive development, cultural awareness, stronger social skills, and most importantly, fun!