Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Peng Zeng—founder of Playlingual and a mom to an amazing daughter!
Tell us about yourself. Why did you open Playlingual?
I’m native Chinese and grew up in Beijing, China, and am now settled in New York City with my husband and 28-month-old daughter. I have been a teacher, consultant, and voice actor of Mandarin Chinese for children in the States for over 10 years. In 2008, I encountered the Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches to early childhood education, both of which value children’s innate ability to learn and create, as well as their interaction with adults and the environment. I was fascinated by the extraordinary growth and development that children experienced under Reggio Emilia and Montessori education. The birth of my daughter, Efemena, furthered my research interest in the two approaches. I have since actively participated in various workshops, courses, and conferences on Reggio Emilia and Montessori education.
The creation of Playlingual is my attempt to integrate Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches into foreign language education for young children. I believe children can grow their interests and develop their language skills through hands-on and interactive activities in a nurturing environment, and with adults who not only speak the target language but also understand children’s individual learning needs.
What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
I’m still searching for the secret! Being a mom and an entrepreneur at the same time is hard. I’m lucky to have support and assistance from my family and friends. I had a hard time at the beginning of Playlingual to balance work, family, and myself. However, after consulting other mom entrepreneurs and embracing my inabilities, I have made some improvement in terms of juggling all the balls as a mom entrepreneur. And I’m still working on creating more me time.
Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I like to develop Playlingual methodology and curriculum with my daughter during our playtime together. Therefore, our playtime is always a bit “messy”. One time, I made cloud dough with flour and cooking oil in a large under-bed bin. I also threw some sand toys in to see how my daughter would react. She was only 12 months old at the time and was immediately drawn to the setup. I was so focused on observing her reaction and feeding her Mandarin Chinese during play that I did not anticipate that she would pour all of the flour onto her body and my head! In the end, we were all covered in the white oily flour laughing. I never forget how important it is to be childish and silly in the moment with your child and students.
What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
My biggest challenge in the struggle for work-life balance has been remembering myself. I can easily get caught up in the roles of being a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and teacher and forget about myself. My greatest reward has been witnessing children having a great time playing in Mandarin Chinese.
What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
You become dumber after you give birth, as naturally you will lose 5% of your brain just to be a mom!
If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Take good care of yourself. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. You are doing great!
What is your favorite children’s book?
Bam and Kero series by Yuka Shimada; Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.
What has been your favorite kids’ class?
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
Go to the children’s museum and playground.
What is your favorite rainy day escape?
Curious about Playlingual? Check out all of the program’s fall classes here!