Our approach to language immersion preschool
Holistic, play-based approach
Our preschool programs offer students the opportunity to learn all the skills they'll need in life through a play-based curriculum. Children don't fit in a box, and neither should their curriculum! Ours is carefully planned each week based on teacher observations, learning goals, and child and family input. Research shows that play is the most effective way to learn skills in each of the major domains, and our teachers work to incorporate communication, early literacy, social and emotional skills, fine, and gross motor development, and each of the major domains into a fun and engaging atmosphere in our preschool classes.
Preschool programs are available in a Spanish immersion setting, and we share our space with the French-immersion preschool program of our sister school Le Soleil French School for Children. In addition to giving your child the most developmentally appropriate education, our goal is to promote proficient bilingualism and multilingualism among our students. As a school with an international focus, it is also important to us to promote intercultural awareness, communication, and respect; the world in which we live isn't getting any less diverse, and we want our students to be able to embrace ideas, cultures, and people from across the globe as they grow.
To provide high-quality, play-based education to young children in an environment that encourages curiosity, problem solving, and autonomy.
Suntree Language Academy is committed
to giving all children in our care the best advantages possible to succeed in life. Our Spanish-immersion programs is designed to help achieve proficient bilingualism in children—something that research has shown to promote significant cognitive advantages (as well as the obvious benefit of speaking more than one language).
Beyond language acquisition,
Suntree staff encourages the healthy cognitive, motor, social, and other development of children through developmentally-appropriate activities. Our focus is on supporting each child’s unique journey through their early life, in tandem with the child’s guardian(s), to give them the skills and confidence they need. Teamwork between those at home and those at Suntree is key to our success.
Our teachers come from all over the world.
We have a diverse, multicultural staff that helps teach students from a young age about embracing and celebrating differences in background, experience, appearance, and ability. Staff members from all over the world help to form a team that leverages many different viewpoints to make the best experience possible for our students.
We believe in experiences, not screen time.
Aside from our optional once-a-month preschool movie night, screen time at Suntree does not exist. Research shows that learning in early childhood comes from engaging and interacting with the people, places, and objects around a child. Children need interpersonal interaction and big body movement for healthy development! That's why we're committed to providing a screen-free environment as part of our intentional environmental design, and it's why—despite the allure of its ease as a tool for busy, working families—we strongly recommend avoiding the use of screens like televisions, tablets, and phones at home, too. We, like you, want the very best for the children in our care.
A day in the life of a Suntree preschooler
The preschool program at Suntree Language Academy focuses on continued support of your child's holistic development, with special focus on language and fine motor skills that are required to begin the life-long journey of literacy. With our language-immersion approach, we encourage lots of literacy practice in English or your home language outside of school so children build up their proficiency in both languages.
Suntree's preschool program is focused on the developmental appropriateness of activities; therefore, we incorporate literacy into our play-based curriculum in order to keep your child interested and learning in a fun and engaging way. At Suntree, our staff is committed to providing your child the social, cognitive, motor, and other skills to succeed in school and in life.
A typical day in the preschool program will include name-tracing (supporting early writing skills daily), work time inside or outside (art, blocks, science projects, music, etc.), reading, exploration time outside at the nearby parks, lunch, quiet time (with an optional nap), a snack, big body movement (inside or outside), and an afternoon learning activity. Throughout the day, teachers are supporting children's development and skill building in the different domains, as well as observing and documenting growth and areas where we need to encourage focus.
With our child-centered and emergent curriculum, we meet children where they are to teach them important skills and help them to meet Idaho's Early Learning eGuidelines (which can be found through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's website). This means our teachers are constantly noting observations and sharing milestone achievement with families to help support development in all domains, with a special focus on language and social and emotional development. As a school with an international focus, it is important that we support intercultural awareness and communication as well. The curriculum is not a set one, but rather created weekly and daily based on our teachers' observations to support children's interests and help them further explore their world.
An example of how we help support early literacy, teamwork, research, and fine motor skills: interested children choose seeds to germinate, then will need to work together to hypothesize about what will happen to the seeds, document the progress of their plants' growth, find if this was expected, and choose what to do to support that growth with the guidance of our teachers and with help in researching their plants. Supporting good research through hands-on data collection helps build media literacy that will serve a child for their whole life!
We encourage healthy social and emotional development.
A part of this effort lies in the way that our staff praises children. Research has shown that using thoughtful praise can help a child to develop their ability to deal with challenges. Our staff is mindful of the language used in praise for children, and encourages effort rather than outcome. An interesting Ted Talk supporting this theory from child psychologist Carol Dweck is linked below.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
strongly endorses a play-based, hands-on approach to education for children from birth to eight years old. This position is supported by research and forms the core of our day-to-day activities at Suntree. Our goal is to help your young child begin to develop the skills to solve problems that will support them throughout their life.
Our curriculum is inspired by the early learning of Reggio Emilia, Italy,
a city which has created its own unique approach to early childhood education. There are a hundred different "languages" with which a child learns, and it is our job to use these many languages to engage them in learning. That means when we hold ateliers to learn creativity, we provoke children's reactions to nature and our wider community in order to find what interests them and how we can better model our curriculum each and every week to serve those interests. It's our goal to help children become citizens of the community, and we focus on building autonomy.
Cognitive benefits of bilingualism
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Growth mindset TED Talk
Carol Dweck, child psychologist
Learning through play
National Association for the Education of Young Children
The Reggio Emilia approach