Each August brings the excitement of new beginnings as children start a new school year! For many children and parents, this school year may be their first experience with Spanish Schoolhouse or language immersion. We know it’s a time of many changes (a new language, schedule, teachers, friends) and many questions. Here are some that we’re often asked at this time of year, with answers that we hope will help!
My child doesn’t speak any Spanish. How will he/she know what’s going on?
This is perhaps the most common question! While we do have some students with a Spanish background, the majority of our students don’t speak Spanish yet so the start of the school year includes a plan for a transition period. For approximately the first two weeks of school, we speak both English and Spanish so the children can get to know their teachers, begin to feel comfortable away from home, and learn the classroom rules and expectations. After this period, a smooth transition to only Spanish will be easy and fun for them.
As language immersion experts, our teachers use lots of visual materials and gestures to help students understand. If a teacher senses that a child isn’t understanding something, she’ll briefly explain in English to make sure no one feels “lost” or “confused” and then resume in Spanish. We also start from “day one” using catchy songs and rhymes that signal when it’s time to change activities. When students hear their teachers and classmates singing, they soon join in, gaining confidence in the new language setting. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they catch on!
Our mission is to encourage the love of the Spanish language, so it’s of prime importance that our students feel comfortable, happy, and secure in our school environment.
How long will it take for my child to begin speaking Spanish?
Language acquisition is a unique process for all children, but in general, the pattern is similar to the way a child learns a first language. During the first year of immersion, children build a base of vocabulary, learn the patterns of the language, and understand 80-100% of what they hear spoken. They begin using single words and short phrases, and will likely sing the songs they’ve learned in school. You’ll see that music plays a big role in our curriculum.
During the second year, vocabulary increases and children begin using the new language naturally, responding and participating in Spanish. While all children experience language growth at this stage, the number of days they attend an immersion program will impact the rate of language acquisition. After two to three years of exposure, our students typically begin to think in Spanish without translation, communicate their thoughts, and carry on conversations in Spanish with a native accent.
What is the daily schedule like in the classroom?
Classroom schedules vary slightly, but your child’s days will include:
- Morning Activity
- Circle Time/Yoga Basics
- Music and Movement (for gross motor development)
- Recess, Lunch/Rest
- Fine Motor/Handwriting Without Tears®
- Learning Centers
- English (a 30-minute class for the three and four-year-old classes)
Circle Time is a daily favorite as children get to explore the world around them! The topics correspond to our weekly and monthly curriculum themes. Circle Time often involves Spanish music and dance. This helps teach cultural concepts and is a fun and important part of Spanish Schoolhouse learning process.
Individual class schedules will be posted in your child’s classroom and on the Parent Information Board in the school. We’ll also hold grade-level meetings at the start of the school year where we will share curriculum information with you. This is a great time to ask specific questions about the curriculum and about your child’s daily routine!
How will I know how my child is doing?
Each day at pickup time, the staff will give you a short update about your child’s day. If your child is enrolled in Stay and Play extended care, the daytime teachers will leave notes for the afternoon office staff to share with you. We also offer an opportunity for you to attend parent/teacher conferences in October, which is a time for you to sit down with teachers and hear more details about how your child is adjusting to the school year. You’ll receive written progress reports again in January and May, and you’ll have additional opportunities for conferences (optional) at this time.
Your child is another great source of information! Be sure to ask them about their day! Our SSH carpool tag has some helpful phrases you can use! Try ¿Qué hiciste hoy? (What did you do today?) or ¿Con quién jugaste? (Who did you play with?)
At any time during the year that you have questions or concerns about your child, we invite you to make an appointment with the director. We encourage open communications between home and school in order to ensure the best experience for your child.
How do you handle allergies/medicine in the school?
Classrooms may be designated peanut-free/nut-free (or another allergen), based on the severity of a child’s allergies. If your child has a diagnosed food allergy, we must have an Allergy Emergency from the child’s physician per the state of Texas. Medications must be in the original container with the prescription label and parents must sign a medication authorization form. Any over-the-counter medications may also be kept at the school and be dispensed per the medication authorization form. They must also be in the original container with your child’s name written on it. Medications will be kept in the office unless otherwise directed by the physician.
What are Periquito Azul days?
We love our school mascot, Periquito Azul! Each month, we plan two days when we celebrate with a special activity in his honor. On these days, uniforms are optional. Sometimes we’ll have a special dress-up day or a party. Each month’s calendar will have all the details, and you can also watch for info in our weekly email reminders and monthly newsletter.
What do I need to bring to school?
No need to bring any school supplies! They’re included in your tuition and are provided by Spanish Schoolhouse.
Forms – Certain forms are required by your child’s first day of school. These include the Child Admission Form, a signed Health Statement, and a copy of your child’s updated immunization records. The admission form link is available in your family portal account. Links to the Health Statement form and the Parent Handbook of Operation Policies are available on the Programs section of our website, on the Preschool and Kindergarten pages.
Lunch – Students must bring a lunch each day. We can’t heat or refrigerate food, so please send an ice pack or thermos for foods that need to be kept hot or cold. We do provide a morning snack and students in Stay & Play extended care receive an afternoon snack as well.
Water Bottle – We want to be sure all children stay well hydrated, particularly in the hot months! Please send a spill-proof (sport-top) water bottle or sippy cup each day.
Nap Mat – All preschool students have a rest time, so will need a nap mat. Threes and Fours will have a 25-30 minute rest time. Twos will have around 90 minutes. We recommend the tri-fold plastic padded mats found at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. because they’re hygienic and easy to sanitize. Children can bring a small blanket or stuffed animal if they’d like. Please label all items with their name. Any fabric items will need to be taken home daily.
Extra Clothes – Each child should have a seasonally-appropriate change of clothes in their backpack in case of spills or accidents. (These don’t need to conform to the uniform guidelines.)
Smiles! – Lastly, please bring your smile and your positive attitude! Children notice and take cues from the way their parents react to situations. The smoothest adjustments to a new school happen when parents talk positively about it in advance and help children know that they will be well cared for and have fun until Mamá or Papá returns.
Ready, Set, Go!
We know there’s a lot to learn but don’t worry! You are in good hands and you’ll feel like a Spanish Schoolhouse pro in no time! There is additional information on our website, so feel free to check here if you’d like to read more. Our office staff is also happy to help with questions at any time, so feel free to give us a call.
We’d like to welcome you once again to the Spanish Schoolhouse family! Congratulation on giving your child the gift of a second language! We can’t wait to start this new school year!