Colvill will offer Spanish enrichment classesIt’s an idea that came to Jill Kenyon late last fall. The director of Colvill Family Center had been watching native Spanish speaking children learn English in the center’s pre-school classes.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
It’s an idea that came to Jill Kenyon late last fall. The director of Colvill Family Center had been watching native Spanish speaking children learn English in the center’s pre-school classes.
“We were amazed at how quickly little ones pick up English,” she said.
That got Kenyon thinking. The center already employs a Spanish speaking paraprofessional, had a classroom that wasn’t being used on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and maintains a strong connection to the Hispanic community.
“Why don’t we do something different?” Kenyon asked herself.
The answer she came up with was to offer an eight-week Spanish enrichment class for 3-, 4- and 5-year-old native English speakers.
“All research says the younger you can (learn a language), the better,” Kenyon said.
While not a full immersion class, the students will learn basic concepts, such as the words for colors, foods and greetings and how to have simple conversations.
“The whole point is enrichment,” Kenyon said.
Juana Pastor, a bilingual paraprofessional, will assist with the program, which will be taught by early childhood teacher Katie Nystuen.
The enrichment session will run for eight weeks beginning in September with two-hour sessions taking place Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Lesson plans haven’t been written yet, but Kenyon said the program will heavily use music, circle time and hands-on activities.
“Labeling things in Spanish is going to be huge,” she said.
Another large part will be creating projects — like a bingo game with words and colors in Spanish — that the children can work on with their families.
“We want to do projects that they can do at home,” she said. “We want to somehow get parents involved as well.”
The session isn’t meant to replace standard early childhood classes.
“This is truly enrichment,” Kenyon said. “We hope they’re getting basic early childhood skills elsewhere or at home.”
Because this is the center’s first time offering the program, Kenyon said it’s being designed around the needs of the community. On the registration form, Kenyon asks what parents want their children to gain from taking the course. She’s also counting on parent feedback once the program wraps up.
And though she said she wants to see how this first “pilot program” goes, Kenyon is confident that Spanish preschool education in Red Wing won’t stop at the end of this eight-week session.
“This is just the first step. … This is such the start of something that could grow so huge,” Kenyon said, adding that she’s excited about the program’s potential. “I’m wide open.”
Jill Kenyon said there are still two open spots in the 15-student Spanish enrichment classroom for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. The class will run for eight weeks Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning Sept. 11. The cost is $150. Call 651-385-8000 for more information.