Educational Programs

Children’s House: Private Preschool and Public Kindergarten

Casa’s English (with Spanish enrichment) and Casa’s Spanish
Casa Esperanza Montessori’s classes for 3-6 year olds include the child’s Kindergarten year. Opportunities for both individualized learning and large group experiences occur naturally in this multi-age setting. The wide variety of activities nourish self-confidence, concentration, cooperation and respect for others.

Our private, tuition-based preschool program is called “Children’s House,” as is common in many Montessori schools.

Our public, charter kindergarten children attend a full school day from 8:30 to 2:50 p.m., five days a week. These public school spaces are charter spaces and are tuition free.

 

Elementary (grades 1-8)

Charter spots are offered based on admissions lottery results.

Our elementary classes feature hands-on materials and multi-age grouping to maximize child-initiated learning and ensure a successful school experience. Our elementary children attend a full school day from 8:30 to 2:50 p.m., five days a week. These spaces are charter and tuition free.

A stimulating, enriching curriculum emphasizing academic core subjects, independence and organizational skills is supplemented by a variety of cultural subjects, including foreign language. Students also have the opportunity to participate in on-campus, extracurricular classes after school.

 

Middle Grades Program (grades 7-8)

Casa opens its inaugural immersion (instruction primarily in Spanish) middle grades program in 2011-2012, beginning with 7th grade in the 2011-2012 academic year. Eighth grade immersion (instruction primarily in Spanish)  will open in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Fine Arts Enrichment

All students at Casa take part in weekly, in-class art and music activities. All students also benefit from our participation in the United Arts Council matching grant program, through which we host artists in residence, including authors, fine artists and musicians. The students receive weekly music and dance instruction within the Spanish education program.

 

Language Studies Programs

Every child at Casa Esperanza participates in either language enrichment programming or partial- immersion programming.

Language Enrichment Classes
In language enrichment classes, core content curriculum is taught in English. Students also participate in daily Spanish lessons. The goal of Spanish enrichment learning is to familiarize students with Spanish vocabulary, conversation, and culture. Students typically exit language enrichment classes with the ability to respond in Spanish in limited conversational settings. As community members at a school in which Spanish is spoken and taught daily, children in language enrichment classes also experience “environmental” Spanish during interactions with their friends, school adults, in the halls, and during community gatherings.

Partial-immersion Classes
In addition to Spanish enrichment classrooms, we offer Spanish-English partial immersion classrooms. In these classrooms, students learn core content curriculum in Spanish, including language arts. Supplemental literacy instruction in English is also included daily in these classrooms. As the population of students in immersion programs increase, so will the number of immersion classrooms.

Although our immersion programs are not designed exclusively to serve academically gifted students, enrollment in the immersion program is limited. Admission to Casa Esperanza does not guarantee admission into the immersion program. Because program demand exceeds program space availability, admission to this program may be based on teacher recommendation for currently-enrolled Casa students, previous educational language experience, and/or parent and student interviews. Parents interested in enrolling their student in immersion must attend an immersion information session and indicate their interest in the program in writing. Immersion information sessions are held in the spring of each school year.

Enrollment in immersion programs is not limited to native Spanish speakers. While a balance between native Spanish-speaking and native English-speaking students is a goal, currently our programs serve native English-speakers at a greater proportion than native Spanish-speakers. Once a student is enrolled in the partial immersion program, students have a position in the program in subsequent years, unless teacher recommendation is made to re-integrate the student into language enrichment classes, in which instruction is in English with a Spanish lesson every day.

Initial enrollment in this partial immersion program is for students at the preK or Grade K level. Students who transfer to Casa after their kindergarten grade year are eligible to participate in our language enrichment classes. Exceptions to this program’s enrollment policy are made on an individual basis following written, oral and listening proficiency assessment.

 

The conviction that learning more than one language is important for every child guides Casa Esperanza’s commitment to a language studies program.

Language is not only a means to communicate and an instrument for thinking; it is also an important tool for understanding and appreciating the thoughts of others in our increasingly multicultural world. Knowing two languages is a marketable skill, thus expanding the individual child’s later opportunities for constructive engagement with society.

There are cognitive benefits as well. According to Michael Rosanova, Ph.D., a professor of education at Chicago State University, a Montessori-certified teacher, and an expert on bilingual education,

Long term, children who have gone through an early childhood [language] immersion experience show greater cognitive flexibility, greater facility in concept formation, greater creativity and problem-solving skills in verbal and math problems, and, obviously, a greater facility of vocabulary.

Learning a language, however, occurs most effectively and efficiently at a very early age. Young children are highly receptive to language acquisition, and second language learning comes most easily early on in a child’s life. Students at Casa Esperanza Montessori are at the perfect age for second language learning.

Casa’s partial immersion program has been designed to create the environment, incentive, resources, and opportunity for monolingual English-speaking children to learn Spanish, for monolingual Spanish-speakers to learn English, and for children partly bi-lingual in both to balance and enhance their dual-language skills. To achieve this end, Casa’s classrooms are facilitated by faculty members who speak both Spanish and English. The method of daily exposure to and participation in both languages is a rapid and effective means of learning a new or less familiar language.

Casa’s partial-immersion program should not be confused with bilingual instruction. In bilingual programs, bilingual teachers and guides are available to respond to a child in whichever language the child is most comfortable. Used by itself, the bilingual approach limits exposure of a child to a new language while creating few incentives for learning it. In the partial-immersion program, the child is in fact educated in both languages by being exposed to two different languages in multiple contexts. It is quite possible for a child to effortlessly acquire two or more languages, and this can be done simultaneously without interfering with the learning process for either.

Dual-language education (also known in professional literature as two-way learning or dual-immersion) is growing throughout the United States.