This is something I’ve been excited to write about for a while. My friends and family who have been listening to me extolling the virtues of language immersion for months. My Facebook page is filled with posts about how my kindergartener reads better in Spanish than in English (trust me; this is a good thing!), and how my 3 and 5 year olds have begun playing a game called “Spanish Radio,” which is a strange amalgam of performances that flip flop between their own private versions of Spanish and English.
If you follow my Editor’s posts, you know I have written about the amazing two-way Spanish immersion program at my kindergartener’s public school, Southwark Elementary. Yes, my kid goes to public school (in Philadelphia! Gasp!) and yes, we are over-the-moon about the advantages she will have because of the education she’s getting there. But what if you have a preschooler and want to introduce them to Spanish immersion before you start searching for the still-way-too-elusive-but-hopefully-expanding-soon dual language programs in public school? Well, as it turns out, you have an option right here in Philadelphia.
Mi Casita Spanish Immersion Preschool in Fairmount, headed up by Melissa Page, is THE place in Philly to get your preschooler’s Spanish on. I won’t go on too much about the physical space of the school, but suffice it to say that Melissa’s vision has been realized in bright, colorful classrooms in a warm, inviting space complete with a gym/multi-purpose area for active play when the weather outside is prohibitive. The philosophy of the school is steeped in play and project based learning skills and they use Creative Curriculum as a launch pad.
When I first met Melissa and heard about Mi Casita, I was on board immediately, and not just because the school is Spanish immersion. Her philosophy, vision and business sense are impressive. The teachers are warm, joyful and committed to the curriculum model as well as the Spanish immersion itself. When I picked up my daughter after her first day, she didn’t want to leave and clung to her teacher while I coaxed her into her coat and shoes. This, more than anything, is a testament to the quality of care and education at the school.
On the staff front, the teachers are fantastic and Melissa is a joy. My younger daughter had minor surgery a few weeks ago and her teacher brought a gorgeous get well card (pictured above!) made by the teachers and students to our house. I feel compelled to mention that my three year old only attends Mi Casita one day a week and had only spent two days there before her teacher made the pilgrimage to our place to bring her a card. I mean, really, it doesn’t get kinder or more thoughtful than that, am I right?
And, because Melissa is creative and innovative, there are opportunities to use the space in other ways. The school is so spacious (and did we say amazing?) that they rent it out for birthday parties! You can consider a DIY option that includes the space rental and basic coordination, or you can go whole hog and ask Mi Casita to provide event coordination as well. With tons of a la carte add ons, the sky really is the limit.
Interested in other types of programs at Mi Casita? Or, do you have a child learning Spanish in school and are hoping to give them some reinforcement in after school programming? This week, the staff is launching a new project based arts program for kids in grades K-4 that incorporates art, movement, music, language and culture. Artist and educator Esperanza Altamar leads the class ($20 drop ins and $150 for the full session), which culminates in the “Qué Bueno” Community Performance. There is still space available and this super cool program should be filled to the rafters soon, so don’t miss the opportunity; email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to register.
If this feels like an ad for a preschool, I suppose that’s what it is. But it’s also just a testimony for one of the greatest preschool gems in Philadelphia from a very happy parent. Part of me doesn’t want the secret to get out, but, then again, I just can’t resist shouting from the rooftops when I find something this good.
I can just feel your enthusiasm, Dear Readers! But don’t take my word for it. Attend their Open House on Wednesday, April 22 from 5:00pm-6:00pm. I’ll be there, along with a few other school parents, and childcare will be provided, so bring the littles and learn more.
Adios, mi amigos!
Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident and a Philadelphia public school parent. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is usually trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.