Colvill students learn Spanish in enrichment programPre-school is usually when children tackle things like learning ABCs, shapes, numbers and colors.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Pre-school is usually when children tackle things like learning ABCs, shapes, numbers and colors.
And for a group of 12 students at Colvill Family Center, there’s no exception to that rule. But in addition to learning all those things in English, they’re adding the Spanish equivalents to their vocabularies.
“We just are kind of starting out with basics: colors, shapes, numbers, animals,” said early childhood teacher Karin Meyer.
The students are part of the center’s Spanish enrichment program, which began Sept. 11.
Colvill Family Center Director Jill Kenyon came up with the idea for the class about a year ago. She said she had been watching some of the center’s Spanish-speaking students learn English and was amazed at how quickly they picked up the second language.
“All research says the younger you can (learn a language), the better,” Kenyon said last spring.
“Kids absorb things so much easier when they’re younger,” Meyer echoed.
The enrichment class isn’t designed to replace normal pre-school courses. Many of the students in the class are enrolled in other pre-school programs that will help them learn the things they need to know before starting kindergarten.
It’s not a full immersion class either; Meyer and educational assistant Juana Pastor often speak in English to the students.
“It’s just more of like an extended exposure to give them some of the basics,” Meyer said.
The class meets for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday through Nov. 1. So far, the class has learned colors, shapes, numbers and days of the week, as well as a few common phrases.
Last Thursday morning, the students were working on counting in Spanish. They used a red inkpad and their fingers to add apples to a green tree they had colored. Then, with Meyer or Pastor, counted the number of apples they put on their tree.
“They pick up on it quickly. Some of them a little more quickly than others,” Meyer said.
They also created a counting game that they can take home to practice counting with their parents. The idea is to “reinforce what we are working on in class,” Meyer said.
For Jed and Kelly Olson, whose 5-year-old son Oliver is in the class, the chance to expose their child to another culture was something they couldn’t pass up.
“We’re looking for more diverse opportunities here in Red Wing,” Jed Olson said, adding that many larger cities have language immersion schools. “When we heard about this program, we were really excited to have (Oliver) in this program.”
Because Oliver was to start kindergarten this fall, Jed and Kelly decided to homeschool him this year so that he could attend the Spanish enrichment course.
“We are happy with how it’s going. We had high expectations for it. It is meeting those,” Jed Olson said.
“He’s naming colors in Spanish instead of English now. He’s very proud that he can identify something using his Spanish.”