As the idea of language immersion is fairly new to our area, you have searched for pictures of what a Spanish immersion classroom may look like. We understand, it’s still a foreign idea.
Recently, I spent the day in Ms. Maria’s class and I thought it would be a neat idea to bring you along! So, come on in, let’s have a virtual tour!
The VPK Classroom at Children’s Academy Fishhawk
A VPK (Voluntary Prekindergarten) dual immersion classroom can look a lot like a traditional preschool classroom. You will see books, activity centers, circle time area, and more — but you will also see all these things in Spanish AND English!
Spending time with Ms. Maria made it apparent to me that our teachers are supportive of our students transition into a second language and they know when to introduce new words and sentences for each child. Many children will enter the classroom at a difference place for their immersion experience. Our teachers are in tune with each child’s needs. When I asked Ms. Maria, our VPK teacher, how she implements Spanish into circle time this is what she shared!
“My children love to sing songs in Spanish! They get so excited when we learn new songs and they really love when they get to be the leaders during circle time. Their favorite part is whoever is the meteorologist for the week. This is their favorite job!”
I wanted to know more about how Ms. Maria teaches Spanish in her classroom, so I asked her to tell me more about center time when she was able to have more one on one with each child.
“During center time, I will have conversations with the children in Spanish. I will often time use my hands to point to the object or subject of conversation. Recently I have been asking more open-ended questions in Spanish and if the children answer me in English I will repeat their answer in Spanish. Before long they will answer me in Spanish instead of English!”
I saw this first hand when I visited! I was curious what Ms. Maria loved most about being a Language Immersion teacher.
“I love when the children make an effort and have that desire to learn a second language! They are hungry to learn new words and new concepts. It makes me happy when they are not scared to try. I enjoy helping them become confident in their new language!” ~Ms. Maria.
And what are some of the benefits of being bilingual?
- Learning Spanish makes you self-sufficient, increase self-esteem, boosts social skills, develops creativity, opens the mind and helps us adapt to change.
- Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language in the United States.
- Bilingualism is proven to increase cognitive abilities.
- Children who grow up speaking more than one language often have linguistic, cognitive and psychological advantages over monolingual speakers.
- Bilingual children are creative, develop stronger problem-solving skills and are more capable of adapting to and coexisting with other cultures.
- Bilingual children enter the professional world with increased employment opportunities as adults.
Help your child handle their separation anxiety
Depending upon your family situation, your child may have no trouble at all transitioning to a new preschool.
However, if your little one is a certain age and has been home with you or another person as the primary caregiver for the past few years, attending a new preschool or having a new caregiver in the home all day may prove to be a difficult transition.
The good news is that most children do eventually make peace with the new order. If you did not ask the childcare provider during your interview how she handles children with separation anxiety, be sure to do so before the first day your child is in day care. In addition, there are steps that you can take to facilitate the change in routine and ensure your child is comfortable with the different setting.
Leaving the Home Care Environment
Enrolling your child in a preschool center care presents a whole set of potential adjustment concerns. Not only is the child with a new caregiver, he or she is in an entirely new environment. The more time he or she has to get used to the idea before going to the new school for the first time, the smoother the transition is likely to be.
One of the best ways to put your child at ease prior to starting your new school is to have him or her visit the school, preferably more than once, for short visits. He or she can interact with the new teacher, as well as with the other children that will be in his or her room, or not interact at all. It may take some time before your child is ready to participate with classmates, and that is all right. Your job is to be supportive of your child and not push him or her into playing with or talking to others if he or she is not yet comfortable doing so.
Some experts suggest reading books with your child about going to day care before the first day arrives. There are a lot of great books about starting a preschool. Here are some of our recommendations. Both before and after reading together, talk about your child’s feelings. Always be reassuring, explain why this arrangement is going to be good for him or her (he or she will make friends, get to play, etc.), and above all, remain positive. Your child is likely to adopt your outlook. If you have a bad attitude about the childcare situation or your return to work, chances are good your child may feel the same.
Another way to ease this big change in your child’s life is to invest into a good bed time routine schedule at least several days, if not weeks, before the first time at school. Grade-school-aged children typically need at least 10 or 11 hours of sleep every night; toddlers and preschoolers need even more. Determine how much time you and your child will need to unhurriedly prepare to leave each morning, and make that your child’s wake-up time. Then count backwards from that time, 10, 11, or 12 hours, depending on your child’s age and sleep pattern, and make that bedtime. Then keep to that schedule. A regular bedtime every night will help give a sense of security to a child in transition.
Try to spend a few minutes with your child at bedtime; singing songs, reading a book, or just talking (or listen as your child shares feelings about the new school). Not only will these become cherished moments for both of you, but the dependability of the routine will help your child deal with feelings of uncertainty about starting a new preschool.
Preparing for the Big Day
When packing up for the first day, you could encourage your child to pick out a special item to bring. Be sure to check with the director first, to see if there are items they will not allow. A good facility will have space to store this belonging, and should not have a problem with him or her bringing a blanket or a toy that does not pose a hazard to others. Also pick out a picture or help your child make a small photo album or scrapbook that he or she can look at during the day. Your child may even come up with his or her own ideas for making the first day more enjoyable.
The transition to your new preschool setting may go more smoothly if you can take it in small steps. If possible, consider bringing your child in for an hour or two the first time. Of course, if you are beginning a new job and cannot take time off, spending time with your child in the school will not be an option. One way around this would be to go into the facility an hour earlier than you normally would for the first several days, to give your child time to become accustomed to the surroundings. If you do this, however, you will want to move bedtime up an hour as well, so that your child still gets the necessary amount of sleep.
On the big day, when it is time to leave your child with the teacher and make your way to work, reassure your child that you will return at a specific time (such as after lunch, after naptime, or some other time that your child will understand). Try, with the teacher’s help, to get your child interested in an activity. Then you should leave. Your little one may show some distress, and it is perfectly all right to give your child a big hug, but it also may be necessary in explaining that you have to leave. If your child remains resistant to your leaving, the teacher should take over and allow you to go. Of course, you can check in and see how your child is doing during the day!
Dealing with Separation Anxiety
A pattern of separation anxiety may repeat for more than a week or two. It is important not to react strongly to your child’s anxiety by becoming impatient, or by showing that his or her behavior is upsetting you. Keep communicating with your child’s teacher and the director to see if your child remains agitated for a good part of the day or if the tears dry up shortly after you leave. If the situation does not seem to resolve itself quickly, and the pattern continues for more than a couple of weeks, it will be necessary to examine the childcare setting to see if there is more than just separation anxiety.
In some cases, it is not your leaving the day care facility that is traumatic for your child, but simply arriving at the center or home with your child triggers the distress. Once a tantrum becomes a regular morning activity, it may be a difficult habit to break. If your child acts out in your presence but calms down once you leave, one possible answer might be to have someone else take your child to day care for several days. Most parents are familiar with the phenomenon of the child who is a little angel for everyone but his or her own mom or dad. Having a third party drop your child off (if you have a close friend or relative who can do this for you) may help to cut off the custom of throwing a fit at the school door.
Even if your child is adjusting fantastically to the new childcare situation, your continued involvement in their day, whenever possible, will help to keep your child happy and secure at the center or family care home. If your childcare is close to work, perhaps you can have lunch together on the same day or days during the week. Even if it is hard to visit on a regular basis, visiting periodically to bring a special snack to your child or read a book to the class will reinforce that you have not forgotten f just because you are apart.
Congratulations, you have decided to give your child the gift of languages with a Language Immersion Preschool. One day your child will thank you for it.
We know you are invested in the process of your child becoming bilingual. We are thankful you have chosen in this investment and we are going to share more about why language immersion preschool programs will benefit your child now and later in their life.
Let’s start with the WHAT! What exactly is a preschool language immersion program and how are they different from traditional language classes. A traditional class means that one class is taught in the foreign language (Spanish). The other classes in the child’s preschool are taught in English. What we find is a relatively only a small perfect of the child’s day is has been spent speaking Spanish.
In a language immersion preschool, most or all classes are taught in the foreign language, resulting in a high percentage of the day speaking the language. There are different type of immersion programs. However, most programs assume that one language is being spoken at home and you, the parents, would like another language to be learned at preschool and for some immersion programs a third language will be picked up in later in the program.
Complete Immersion is probably the most popular choice and means that 100% of the classes are taught in Spanish. This type of program is designed to bring about fluency in the Spanish language. Your child will become fluent in English, because this language is spoken at home. This type of immersion is considered to be one way.
Partial Immersion means that 50% of the classes are taught in Spanish. With these type of programs the goal is for the school to focus on fluency in both English and Spanish, they are considered two way. Some schools support a triple play program and these are for the very ambitious and will involve a two-way complete immersion with Spanish and Mandarin at school with the assumption that English is spoken at home. These types of programs are rare.
1. A True Investment That Will Save you Down The Road: Studies have shows that children have a window of a few years during which learning a second language comes easily to them. Very easy in fact. The estimated “cut off” age is around 10 years old. An immersion preschool may be a little more expensive than an “English only’ one, but the return on your investment on their language education when they are less than five years old is, let’s say a hundred times greater, than when they are older and in their teens and we will say a thousand times greater by the time they are in their twenties, especially when considering the cost of college these days.
2. Language Absorption: Children are little sponges from about the age of 6 months and through the age of 10. Studies show the more you give them to learn, the more they will acquire. If you want them to learn more, it makes sense to give them the opportunity to learn a second language while they are still in this “sponge” period. The frequent use of the foreign language being used in immersion programs in much higher than in a traditional class and this increases their opportunity to absorb the language.
3. Teaching Approach: In a preschool whose main focus is teaching a new language, the teachers have more time and flexibility to approach teaching for a wider variety of angles. This style is a good fit for our younger learners who are naturally inquisitive and are actually able to absorb the languages from all angels.
4. Involved and Invested: At the organizational level, language immersion preschools tend to act as a magnet for achievement-oriented parents who like to stay involved so you can meet others share your education values. Many parents will invest time into ensuring their child knows how to communicate everything in English and Spanish. An example may be when a parent says “You know rojo means red, correct”
5. Diversity, Culture, Compassion: You are creating an environment for your child where they need to try harder to understand and to be understood. This is a very meaningful way to teach compassion. It is also impossible to learn a foreign language without understating the culture that goes with that specific language. Becoming culturally aware and compassionate for others with different backgrounds have always been an asset. In today interconnect world, we believe this connection and compassion is priceless!
What is Positive Behavior Support all about?
I will never forget the time I was sharing my preschool parenting woes with a fellow preschool mom and also fellow educator. At one point in my long drawn out rant she asked me if I was using PBS in my approach. Silly me, I thought she mean the channel PBS, you know like Public Broadcast System. I told her Barney was not my thing and she just laughed!
She was referring to Positive Behavior Support also referred to as Positive Discipline. I future blogs I will refer back to Positive Behavior Support (PBS) a lot, so I figure now is a good time to give you to 411 on what positive discipline is and what are the staples into developing this type of discipline in your home and child’s life.
What is PBS?
Positive Behavior Support is effective with our little ones because it is different from traditional or conventional discipline. It has nothing to do with punishment, which is often times partnered and thought of hand in hand with discipline. It does have everything to do with teaching your child very valuable life skills!
This type of discipline with young children involved sharing what you will do and then kindly, but firmly following through, rather than expecting your child to fall in line. As your child becomes more mature and cognitively developed, you will be able to involve him or her in the process of focusing on solutions and participating setting his or him limits.
In this way, he or she can be practicing thinking skills, feel more capable and learn to his autonomy is useful ways. Understanding the building blocks of PBS will support you as you build relationships of love and respect with your child and will also help you solve problems together for years to come.
The Building Blocks of PBS:
• R E S P E C T – Parents model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation at hand. They also model kindness and respect the needs of the child.
• Behind the Behavior – All human behavior has a purpose. You will be way more effective at changing your child’s behavior when you understand the motivation for it. Your little one started creating the beliefs that form their personality from the very day they were born. Dealing with the belief is as important, maybe even more important, than dealing with the behavior.
• Effective Communication – Parents and children can learn to listen well and use respectful words to ask for what they need. Parents learn that children will hear them better when they are invited and encouraged to think and participate instead of being told what to say and do. Parents learn along the way, modeling what they expect from their children.
• Your Child’s Perspective – Your child will go through different stages of development by learning about the developmental tasks your child faces day in and day out. Each child is unique as in the roles they play in their lives contribute to their way of thinking
• Discipline with purpose- Effective discipline teaches valuable social skills and life skills that are not permissive or punitive.
• Focus on the solution, not the punishment – Blame never solves problems. Decide how to approach the challenges an problems. Then, as your child grows and develops you lean to work together to find respectful and helpful solutions the problems you face. This will help from everything from spilled milk, sharing and the bed time struggles.
• High Five Time – Encouragement celebrates effort and improvements, not just success and also helps children build their confidence in their own abilities.
As we continue to share more about PBS down the road, we hope this give you a little insight into the building blocks of how it works and how we build the relationships in the classroom and in your homes!
It took me time to shift my way of thinking and I realized my I no longer needed to lecture or nag. We built our relationship on cooperating and building my children’s thinking skills. I understand my children do not have the same priorities as me, but there is mutual respect and an understanding to comply when the request are on their developmental level. PBS had made a positive change in our home and school life!
Tips for busy parents to keep their mornings running smoothly
Tips For Keeping Everyone Smiling!
I don’t know about you, but I used to feel like no matter how much planning went into my weekend to prepare for the upcoming week my Monday mornings were always still a bottle of stress. I asked myself “Why are my mornings so stressful?”
What it really comes down to is this, mornings are a short period of time to get a lot accomplished and depending on the personalities in your home it can make all the difference on how your mornings play out.
For example, I am fast paced in the morning, and my middle daughter moves quite slowly. I am a morning person who whistles and sings “Good morning” to any souls who walk my way. Now, this does not mix well with two out of my three children.
I think it’s important to take into consideration how you and your children operate before tackling your morning routine. Mornings can become the perfect opportunity for children to assert their individuality and with the clock ticking, this is the prime time for power struggles.
Here are some tips for what I would like to call “Cool, Calm, Collective Mornings”
- Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep. I firmly believe a well rested child is a child ready to take on the day! Tuck those kiddos in on time. Every child is different, I learned early on that my middle child need a little more sleep than the average child so I adjusted her bedtime to make sure she was well rested before that 6:30 am alarm went off!
- Prepare the night before. Remember when I said there is a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time? Let’s minimize the amount of responsibilities everyone has in the mornings. Here a few quick tips to tackle the night before:
- Prepare breakfast – Yes you can! Try these breakfast tips
- Pack lunches
- Choose clothes
- Assign a place for “all things headed out the door the next day”
- Get up before your children. Waking up about 15-30 minutes before you children will help you establish their routine. I like to be showered, dressed and well caffeinated before I even wake up my children. I found having my own routine before establishing theirs help set me up for success.
- Make a “My Mornings” chart. My children each had their own routine chart and this helped them stay on track without me having to run to each of my three children and ask “Did you do this, now do this?” It doesn’t mean I don’t have to check in on them, because I do, but the chart was a nice little mommy assistant to move my littles on. I suggest a picture chart for 5 and under. Ages 3-5 could have their task written next to the picture. Some ideas for the morning chart could be the following:
- Brush your teeth
- Brush your hair
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Put on shoes
- Grab your back pack and lunch
- Hug mom/dad good bye
Happy Parents Make Happy Children!
Incorporate “First, Then” into your routine- also known as “When, Then”: After successfully completing Positive Behavior training, I learned the importance of modeling routine in my language. My children love to have about 10-15 minutes of TV time before leaving in the morning. So I would always remind them where they were at in their chart and say “ First, brush your teeth, Then brush your hair” It was almost ALWAYS followed up by “When your routine is finished, then you may watch TV”. This has worked wonders in our home and in our routine. I make sure my kids know, it doesn’t matter to me if they watch TV or not, but if they want to they must FIRST do their routine and THEN have their free time. They get so sick of hearing me say First, Then, that they no longer nag to do things until they have first completed their tasks. Stick with it my friends, First/Then works!
- Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected: My children can sense when I am feeling overwhelmed and frantic. When I follow my morning routine, I rarely feel this way. But sometimes there are hiccups in the morning that no routine can solve (you know the stepping dog poop on the way to the car, a surprise nose bleed or stomach virus beginning as you walk out the door! You know we’ve all been there!) But when you are feeling frazzled, get down to their level, explain to them why you need help and give them a chance to help you solve your morning challenges. Your children will mirror your actions. If you are huffing and puffing about your issues, sooner or later they will have the same kind of morning stressing over all the small things. Keep your calm voice and coffee in hand.
- Work Together: Talk about how everyone can be a team. I have given each of my children their own “Family task” in the morning. My oldest daughter feeds the dog, my middle daughter is the light fairy (makes sure all lights are off) when we leave the house and my son is the bag checker; he makes sure everyone has their things when we are pulling out of the drive way. This makes everyone feel important and also helps me with my morning!
Trying to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works may seem in the beginning like a lot of effort, but the ease with which (most of) our mornings flow these days has made the effort well worth it.
Instead of being the most stressful time of the day, our mornings are now a whole lot calmer and set the pace for a beautiful day ahead. What more could this happy momma ask for?