La Escuelita, as Pittsburgh’s only Spanish Immersion School, is one of a kind. As such, here are some frequently asked questions that we receive.
Immersion & Spanish Q’s
- How do La Escuelita's students adjust to hearing only Spanish at La Escuelita?
- The children during the day will be surrounded by Spanish. Because of preschoolers predisposition and elastic brains, they really do not outwardly ‘adjust’ to anything. They listen, watch and understand quickly. From songs, games, cooking, their learning is quite hands-on. You’ll soon hear your children come home singing Escuelita songs in Spanish!
- There are minimal to no interactions with the teachers in English. Often, you can observe students interacting with their peers in English, as we do not require or enforce them to speak Spanish. The concept of Immersion itself will assist in your child’s adaptation to our environment, as well as our warm, nurturing and supportive space.
- How will my child maintain their fluency?
- Language acquisition is not a short project, and its course takes many years. While there are many ways for your child to maintain Spanish fluency, we recommend continuing the immersion experience with our Alumni After School Program. This will create a sense of continuity with their Spanish learning environment, and contrary to a tutor, will provide genuine interaction and organic development of language acquisition and fluency.
- Will my child have a hard time when introduced to a school program taught in English?
- No, and studies show that exposure to a second language at an early age enhances the parts of the brain that process language. Therefore, your child will be able to understand intricate nuances of language more quickly than monolingual students. There might be a small gap of time where they need to adapt to their new environment.
- If Spanish is not spoken in the home, what can we do as a family to solidify their skills?
- Immersion programs are projected towards households that are non-Spanish speaking. The only necessary task is to be supportive and enthusiastic about their language acquisition! We encourage our familias to incorporate Spanish into the household. For example, play and sing along to La Escuelita’s songs. Our Social Media accounts also highlight local cultural activities and events, bilingual books, and bilingual education tips.
- How do you measure the children’s success?
- Great question! As a school that focuses on an Emergent Curriculum, it is our belief that children learn best during play, in a warm, supportive, and engaging space. This allows for our students to develop academically, socially, and emotionally at their own pace and based on their own interests.
- We do not measure success in a traditional or academic manner. We promote and foster your child’s sense of openness,interest, awareness, and respect for other cultures and all peoples. It is not our goal to set a standard for each student’s fluency. It does and should develop organically within the immersive environment and curriculum we provide.
- Where are the staff from? What are their credentials?
- Our part-time and full-time staff come from a vary of professional and personal backgrounds. Our staff represents 8 different Latin American countries including: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Venezuela. Their professional backgrounds vary. Not everyone comes to La Escuelita with a degree or academic background in Early Childhood Education. However, they all come with a passion for working with children, implementing innovative techniques in the classroom, and creative and dynamic classroom management. Our staff continues to pursue further higher education and degrees.
- Additionally, we implement professional development in correlation to Keystone Stars’ regulations and standards.
- What is the family volunteer policy & how does it work?
- As a community based school and a non-profit organization, La Escuelita depends on volunteerism and family involvement in order to thrive. Families are required to contribute 25 hours per family per year. In lieu of volunteerism, an optional tax- deductible donation is one way to help offset the additional costs of the school.
- A list of available service jobs is posted at the beginning of the school year online and in the Escuelita office. Families are responsible for logging their hours. Service hours may include participation with the Board of Directors committees work, an event committee, fundraising, school projects, class projects, or any other activities that are in service to the school.
- How do teachers handle discipline in the classroom?
- Teachers use positive methods of discipline, which encourages self-control, self-direction, self-esteem, and cooperation. The teachers, along with the children, establish a clear set of rules that will be used throughout the year. Teachers attempt to anticipate and redirect inappropriate behaviors. We always try to help children use words to express anger, resolve conflicts and express needs and desires. With older preschoolers and school-age children, the emphasis shifts towards teaching children how to solve their own problems and conflict resolution.
- Are there any food restrictions?
- We are mindful of the religious dietary needs within the Beth Shalom facility. For this reason, please do not send pork or shellfish in your child’s lunch. There is a refrigerator and a microwave in each classroom available for use.
- La Escuelita recognizes the significance of birthdays for our students. A special snack will be provided by Escuelita on your child’s birthday. If you’d like to provide a birthday treat for the class, please do not bring in anything store bought or heavily processed. We strongly discourage these for the children, and prefer homemade items.
- If your child is staying in the afternoon, he/she must bring a lunch. Rest time occurs right after lunch, which is eaten at noon for the toddlers and 1 pm for the preschoolers.
- What snacks and food are provided?
- Snacks are provided by La Escuelita. Each day in the mid morning, we sit together to enjoy a healthy snack consisting of a grain and a fruit. We offer water for the children to drink. The normal snack items are pretzels, tortilla chips, and popcorn. Once a week, we cook organic whole wheat bread, fresh tortillas or rice and beans. Please, inform us if your child has any special dietary needs. We love to cook as part of our curriculum and use all natural ingredients in our cooking. Each class has the opportunity to make a recipe at least once a week. Parents are encouraged to visit and share a favorite recipe with their child’s class.
- How does the application process work? What is the next step?
- Our admission process is as follows: after an application and the $25.00 application fee is submitted, we access our re-enrollment for current families and siblings and then, thoroughly go through our available spaces and applications. Prospective families are not required, but strongly encouraged to attend a tour to interact with our space
- Children are more than welcome to attend.
- The next step? You can check in with us or make changes to your application at any time. You will receive office communications of an Applicant Status update following the application deadline, expected by early April. Following, prospective families that receive a confirmation of status, will be invited to an Applicant Visit. The child and one parent/guardian will spend an hour in the classroom. This will solidify interest, and give you an additional opportunity to familiarize yourself with La Escuelita. After contracts are drafted and signed, your spot is officially considered as secured.
What Parents are Saying
"Our children have had a wonderful preschool and kindergarten experience, with caring teachers and the opportunity to immerse themselves in another language and culture. Perhaps the most important to our family has been the outdoor focus of their education; something that is unfortunately lacking in many schools. And above all, we've found a really strong sense of community at La Escuelita."
We're Now a Head Start Partner!
We're very excited to be a new Head Start Partner! To learn more about Head Start and to find out if you qualify, click here!
If you qualify and are looking for quality child care, please apply!