In New York how to hothouse your tot

In New York how to hothouse your tot

NEW YORK - The pursuit of educational excellence is so competitive in New York that some babies are given personal tuition in French and Chinese, and four-year-olds are hothoused for the best schools.

Some of the richest, most competitive, most fashionable parents on the planet leave no stone unturned in the fight to provide their children with the upper hand.

Babies who cannot even form sentences in their native English are signed up to "baby and me" lessons in Chinese or French in the ultra-trendy TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan.

At TriBeCa Language, the lessons are open to tots as soon as they start babbling.

In one, a French teacher sings a well-known French nursery rhyme to nine-month-old twins sitting under a "baby gym" on a mat with their American mother.

The teacher then guides them through a game with little doors illustrated with pictures of rooms in a house, behind which are animal figurines.

"Where is the rabbit? In the sitting room!" she says in French, opening one of the little doors.

Maurice Hazan, the founder of Tribeca Language, said when he moved to New York 20 years ago, he realised there was a huge market in introducing children to foreign languages as early as possible.

In a city where 37.2 per cent of the residents were born overseas, many richer than average parents want their children to be bilingual even if mom and dad are not.

Wealthy parents are also influenced by research suggesting that growing up bilingual can have a positive impact on memory and early learning.

With the global rise of the Chinese economy, Chinese is currently the most in demand, but French still holds the enviable association of being seen as chic, Hazan said.

"We want her to develop cognitive skills and an ear for language to set her up for loving the exploration of language and cultures going forward," says one mother of a four-year-old girl who has been at the school for two years.

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