Immerse Your Child In Español at Mi Casita
Mi Casita, a Spanish-immersion preschool, has opened their fourth location in Spring House!
In 2015, Melissa Page Peter saw her vision of a Spanish-immersion preschool come to life when she welcomed her first students to Mi Casita in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. Almost eight years later, Melissa is opening her fourth location of Mi Casita in Spring House, Montgomery County this month. “I like to say that we are curing monolingualism with our preschools,” says Melissa with a laugh. “What we are really doing is helping children to become bilingual and encouraging families to embrace being bilingual and doing so by creating community through our preschools.” Mi Casita’s other two locations are on the Main Line in Ardmore and in Fort Worth, Texas (Melissa’s home state). “More and more parents are interested in having their children have this unique experience and exposure to Spanish,” says Melissa. “It’s really very exciting.”
Mi Casita is a preschool that also operates as a daycare and welcomes children as young as three months. What sets Mi Casita apart is that it’s 100 percent Spanish immersion—meaning all interaction and instruction is entirely Spanish. “I always tell parents that we don’t teach Spanish here, we speak in Spanish,” says Melissa. “So your child will naturally pick up the language as they’re exposed to it day in and day out.” It has been proven that the fastest and most effective way to achieve fluency in a language is through immersion. Preschool age children, ages 0-3, are said to be at the best age to learn a second language as their brain is in its most flexible stage to absorb information. It’s understandable that parents are excited about having their children become bilingual once they hear the many benefits it brings. Some of these benefits include the fact that learning a second language has been proven to enhance memorization and other cognitive pursuits like problem solving skills and strong critical thinking skills. The foundation formed at Mi Casita is carried with children throughout their elementary and high school education.
Another way that the classrooms at Mi Casita are unique is that they apply the Montessori concept of Project-Based Learning (PBL). With the PBL curriculum students work together in teams on real-world “projects” to find solutions and accomplish goals. “We have no worksheets here,” explains Melissa. “The children use their creativity to learn with each other.” The success of PBL relies on strong leadership from nurturing teachers, which Mi Casita is proud to have. All teachers at the preschool are native speakers of Spanish. “All of our teachers are wonderful with the children and so warm,” says Melissa. The director of the Spring House Mi Casita is Lauren Hinde, a former high school Spanish teacher, who has spent time in Ecuador. “We are so lucky to have Lauren,” says Melissa. “She, like all our teachers, has a true passion for the Spanish language.”
At Mi Casita it isn’t necessary to have a Spanish background to attend, in fact most families don’t. “Most of our families just value multiculturalism and want their children to be exposed to another language,” says Melissa. “We also have a number of families where one parent is from a Spanish-speaking country and they want to promote their heritage language. And we also have international families who simply understand the importance of being multilingual.” Mi Casita acts as a support to parents to reinforce the continuance of learning the language at home in simple ways from providing parents with basic vocabulary lists in the monthly newsletter to sharing Spotify playlists of kid-friendly Spanish songs to sing at home. “We also invite parents to come to Parent Nights at the school where we focus on different themes that will help them help their children learn,” says Melissa. “Soon I’ll also be bringing back something called ‘Sangria Sessions’ which are Spanish wine adult classes. Those events have always been fun, too.” For Melissa one of the unexpected benefits of founding Mi Casita is the community that has been formed among the families. “We host monthly community events for the families so the parents can connect and get to know one another,” says Melissa. “It’s been really special to watch these relationships grow.” Some of the families have bonded so well that they have taken trips together, some even taking international vacations with one another.
Living in a country that is increasingly multicultural, the importance of learning a second language is undeniable. The United States has the second-largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, with 13 percent of the population speaking the language at home. “The mission of Mi Casita is to develop a generation of multicultural students who are curious, passionate, confident lifelong learners,” says Melissa. “We are living that mission every day in our classrooms.” At the beginning of every month there is a school-wide kick-off event to introduce and excite Mi Casita students about the new monthly theme. Pictured above is the kick-off for the November theme of Tradiciones aqui y alla or Traditions Here and There. The whole school will be learning about Latin-American traditions; they’ll be presented traditions that are important to their teachers, sharing about traditions from their own families, and creating new traditions with their Mi Casita familia!
Mi Casita Spring House officially opened November 7 and is currently enrolling (no wait list!). For a tour of Mi Casita Spring House fill out this form, email springhouse@micasitapreschool.
This story was written by Tara Marmur for the Bucks County Parent Community. Photographs by Polina Bulman Photography. Photos were taken at the Ardmore, PA location.