Frequently Asked Questions
What type of curriculum does your preschool offer?
La Casita Feliz uses a play based preschool curriculum that combines Spanish language learning, culturally rich music, art projects, and activities in a monthly thematic approach that addresses the following early childhood development areas:
Social and Emotional – Students learn to interact positively with others, resolve conflicts and build self-esteem.
Language and cognitive skills and concepts – Preschoolers name the objects, places, and people in their world and identify the roles they play in their daily life. Students also work with colors, numbers, shapes and directional-positional concepts and problem solving. Activities are designed to help students build skills in listening and comprehension, following directions, while learning about the world they live in.
Music and Dance – activities help children develop movement skills, spatial awareness and rhythm. Culturally rich music is chosen for enjoyment during free time and art projects as well as for enriching the learning experience (learning counting, body parts, colors, concepts and vocabulary, etc.)
Dramatic Play and storytelling – an outlet for creative self-expression!
Art – focus on process rather than product. Half of the projects are free art – students are given materials and follow their own process and imagination to create their “work”. The other half of the art projects are crafts with specific steps to follow for producing a final project.
Perception – development of skills related to the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch
Motor skills – fine and gross motor skills
Self-care skills – related to putting their own shoes and coats on, preparing, serving and eating snack, cleaning up after play time and art projects, and taking care of one’s school materials.
Pre-math – incorporates the experiences, ideas and skills to help children organize their world. Activities include counting, matching, sorting, patterning, comparing, classifying, measuring, identifying shapes, and calendar activities.
Science – the weather and seasons will always be a part of monthly themes. We will explore nature at the park, highlighting the weather of the day and the season we are in. We will learn about plants and animals.
All of this is done in a Spanish immersion environment with no English spoken.
What is the class size?
La Casita Feliz student/teacher maximum ratio is 6:1. We believe the classes should be small to create a meaningful experience for each student. Our commitment to small class size ensures that the teacher is able to engage each student in the Spanish language.
Do you have a “philosophy” about discipline?
We consider behavior issues ripe teaching opportunities! We strive to provide a safe environment for all children in the context of a positive guidance philosophy. The goal is to assist children develop self-control and acceptable behavior in a manner that promotes their self-esteem. We give choices and model appropriate behavior. La Casita Feliz does not use punitive discipline. No form of corporal punishment, verbal mistreatment or harsh punishment is used. With a structured curriculum that guides children in their journey of self- discovery, a well-planned environment and a nurturing, professional staff, children feel safe working through developmental milestones related to behavior. If issues of concern emerge regarding a child’s behavior, the staff and parents will meet to discuss a new direction in order to support the child as he/she learns and develops appropriate behavior and social skills.
Are the teachers native Spanish speakers? What are their qualifications?
At La Casita Feliz, your child will be taught entirely in Spanish by teachers who were raised in a Spanish speaking country. Our teachers are always energetic, compassionate, creative, and well-spoken.
Sebastián Grynberg, Lead Teacher Los Pollitos and Los Conejitos.
Sebastián is a native of Argentina and grew up in both Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata. He studied psychology and Yiddish theater before moving to Seattle in 2002. Since arriving in Seattle, he has been teaching Spanish to both adults and children while also being a stay-at-home dad to four young boys (ages 2, 6, 9 and 11). He and his wife, Ruby, are rasing their children bilingually. In his spare time, Sebastián works several hours a week as a volunteer in his children’s classrooms. He also teaches Spanish at two local preschools. Sebastián enjoys dancing (tango and salsa), cooking for friends and family, going to live theater productions and designing and making ceramics. Sebastián participates in ongoing the early learning training at La Casita Feliz and is CPR certified for childcare.
Estela Soto, Lead Teacher. Maestra Estela was born and raised in México and earned her certificate in Early Childhood Development here in Seattle. She brings years of experience as a Spanish immersion preschool teacher, and has been teaching at La Casita Feliz since we opened in 2011. Estela’s insight and caring nature adds an extra sense of peace and happiness to our classroom. Estela’s gentle style helps put young children at ease as they transition into their preschool years. In her free time, Estela is almost always taking one class or another to satisfy her thirst for knowledge about early childhood development. She also loves to cook, design and make her own jewelry, as well as participate in cultural activities locally.
They are all gifted as natural teachers and each teacher brings a different view of the world and teaching style. all are CPR and First Aid certified for childcare.
Is there any English spoken in the class?
The class is complete immersion, which means no English will be spoken except in emergency situations. Communication with parents will be in English. Once the children enter the classroom, they are immersed in (surrounded by) the Spanish language.
Why have an immersion program at the preschool level?
Young brains are hard wired to acquire language. Research has shown that young children have a unique ability to absorb a second language naturally. Experts estimate that by age 8-12, humans already begin to lose the ability to hear and say new sounds. Taking advantage of the window of opportunity that exists between birth and adolescence allows a child to optimize his or her learning potential, and speak the second language with a native accent and absorb grammatical structure naturally. In addition, studies show that young children who learn a second language enjoy many additional cognitive benefits, such as enhanced problem-solving skills, enhanced spatial relation skills, and heightened creativity. When children enjoy their environment and feel safe, they absorb their surroundings and learn without even realizing it.
How will my child understand what is going on in class?
Young children learning a second language will learn Spanish the same way they learned their first language. The teacher will use hand and body cues, stories, inflection, facial signals, songs, games, and fun to make clear what is being conveyed. This way of teaching is known as Total Physical Response (TPR), and it is very successful in communicating in situations where the language is not understood. Children learn to explore and examine their surroundings and environment. In a short time, they catch on to what is being communicated. Young children do not have the same inhibitions that older people tend to have while learning. They are natural mimics and have little fear in making mistakes; they absorb the second language much more naturally and without hesitation than an older child or adult might.
Is any prior exposure or knowledge of Spanish required?
No prior exposure or knowledge of Spanish is required. We assume children coming to our class are being exposed to Spanish immersion for the first time. However, we welcome and encourage children who have some prior knowledge of Spanish – they tend to be natural tutors and helpers to the other kids!
Do we, as parents, need to know how to speak Spanish?
It is not necessary that parents speak Spanish. The teachers instruct your child with proper pronunciation, grammar, and accent. Of course, having reinforcement at home is always an advantage, but children with little or no reinforcement of Spanish at home are just as successful in immersion programs as those with native speakers at home. Parents often enjoy learning Spanish at the same time as their children. Most parents observe that the younger students quickly surpass adults in their learning curve.
How much Spanish will my child retain/remember?
It is difficult to quantify exactly how much a child will retain since each child is unique in his/her language development. Much depends on the role language learning plays in your child’s life after her/his time at La Casita. It is important to note that studies have shown that exposure to foreign language at a young age aids in learning a second or third language at adolescence and adulthood. The familiarity with the Spanish language will also help them to “pick it up again” at a later age. Studies have shown that learning a foreign language adds additional cognitive benefits some of which include: enhanced problem-solving skills, enhanced spatial relation skills and heightened creativity.
Does La Casita Feliz have any religious affiliation?
No, we have no religious affiliation. We are dedicated to embracing the diversity that makes our world rich by engaging children in world languages and culture.