Spanish Schoolhouse FAQs for New Families

New lunch boxes, backpacks, uniforms, and the excitement of meeting new teachers and friends! It’s “Back to School” time, and like every August, this is a time of many questions, especially for new families at Spanish Schoolhouse. We’ve been welcoming students back to school for over 20 years now, so don’t worry… we have answers to all those FAQs (frequently asked questions)!

Spanish Schoolhouse student, new preschool families, FAQs for new preschool families

My child doesn’t speak any Spanish. How will he/she know what’s going on?

This may be the question we hear the most!  While we do have some students with a Spanish background, the majority of our students don’t speak Spanish yet.  To make the transition to full immersion a little easier,  we use both Spanish and English for the first two weeks of school.    This helps the children get to know their teachers, start feeling comfortable away from home and become familiar with classroom rules and expectations.  After this period, a smooth transition to only Spanish will be easy and fun for them. 

Our teachers are language immersion experts!  They use lots of visual materials and non-verbal communication to help students understand. If a teacher senses that a child isn’t understanding something, she’ll briefly explain in English to make sure no one feels “lost” or confused and then resume in Spanish.  We also start from day one using catchy songs and rhymes that signal when it’s time to change activities. When students hear their teachers and classmates singing, they soon join in, gaining confidence in the new language setting. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they catch on!  

Our mission is to encourage the love of the Spanish language, so it’s super important that we help our students feel happy and secure in our school environment. 

Preschool Art project, preschool child, Spanish Schoolhouse

How long will it take for my child to begin speaking Spanish?

Language acquisition is a unique process for all children, but in general, they will learn a new language in a similar way they learned their first language. During the first year of immersion, children build a base of vocabulary, learn language patterns, and understand 80-100% of what they hear spoken. They begin using single words and short phrases, and will likely sing the songs they’ve learned in school. You’ll soon see that music plays a big role in our curriculum!

During the second year, watch the vocabulary increase!  Children begin to use the new language naturally, and it’s exciting to watch them respond and participate in Spanish. They will all show language growth at this stage but, obviously, the more exposure they have, the faster the process is. 

After two to three years of exposure, our students typically begin to think in Spanish without translating, communicate their thoughts, and can hold conversations with a near-native Spanish accent.  Since our teachers come from all over the Spanish-speaking world, students are surrounded by unique variations in accent.  This adds to their cultural experience. Staff can often tell who a child’s teacher is by the child’s accent!  It’s so exciting to watch kids as they effortlessly pick up vocabulary and accents, just from what they’re hearing (something adult language learners have to work hard for!).

Spanish Schoolhouse language acquisition, preschool student, solar system in Spanish, solar system for preschoolers.

What is the daily schedule like in the classroom?

Classroom schedules vary slightly, but your child’s days will include: 

  • Morning Activity
  • Circle Time/Yoga Basics
  • Language/Math/Science
  • Music and Movement (for gross motor development)
  • Art
  • Recess, Lunch/Rest
  • Fine Motor/Handwriting Without Tears®
  • Learning Centers
  • English (a 30-minute class for the three and four-year old classes)

Circle Time is a daily favorite as children get to explore the world around them!  We coordinate themes with our weekly and monthly curriculum themes.  You’ll notice that Circle Time often involves Spanish music and dance.  This is a fun and important part of the SSH learning process that helps teach cultural concepts as well as vocabulary!

Individual class schedules will be posted in your child’s classroom and on the Parent Information Board in the school.  We’ll also hold grade-level meetings at the start of the school year to share curriculum information with you. This is a great time to ask specific questions about the curriculum and about your child’s daily routine!  

Preschool circle time, preschool science experiment, Spanish Schoolhouse students

How will I know how my child is doing?

Each day at pickup time, the staff will give you a short update about your child’s day. If your child is enrolled in Stay and Play extended care, the daytime teachers will leave notes for the afternoon office staff to share with you.  You’ll have an opportunity to attend a parent/teacher conference and you’ll receive three progress reports throughout the year.  

Perhaps the best way to find out about your child’s day is to ask them!  Try ¿Qué hiciste hoy? (Kay ee-sis-tay oy?) which means “What did you do today?” or ¿Con quién jugaste?  (Con kyen hoo-gas-tay?) – “Who did you play with?”

You’re always welcome to make an appointment with the director during the school year if you have additional questions or concerns about your child. Open communication between home and school helps ensure the best experience for your child.

How do you handle allergies/medicine at school?

Classrooms may be designated peanut-free/nut-free (or other allergens), based on the severity of a child’s allergies. If your child has a diagnosed food allergy, we must have an Allergy Emergency Plan from the child’s physician per the state of Texas. 

Medications to be given at school must be in the original container with the prescription label and parents need to sign a Medication Authorization Form. Over-the-counter medications may also be kept at the school and be dispensed per the medication authorization form. They must be in the original container with your child’s name on it.  Medications will be kept in the office unless otherwise directed by the physician. 

Medicine Authorization Form - Texas

What are your procedures and protocols in response to COVID-19?

You can always find our updated procedures on our Website Health & Safety page.  We monitor the conditions and adapt our protocols accordingly, so please refer back to this link whenever you have questions!

What are Periquito Azul Days?

We love our school mascot, Periquito Azul!  Each month, we plan two days when we celebrate with a special activity in his honor. On these days, kids can wear their favorite clothes – no uniforms required! Sometimes we’ll have a special dress-up day or a party. Each month’s calendar will have all the details, and you can also watch for info in our weekly email reminders and monthly newsletter.

Periquito Azul; Spanish Schoolhouse mascot

What do I need to bring to school?

  • School Supplies? – No need to bring these!  They’re included in your tuition and are provided by Spanish Schoolhouse.  
  • Forms – Certain forms are required by your child’s first day of school.  These include the Child Admission Form, a signed Health Statement, and a copy of your child’s updated immunization records. The Admission Form link is available in your family portal account.  Links to the Health Statement form and the Parent Handbook of Operational Policies are available on the Preschool and Kindergarten Registration pages of each location. 
  • Lunch – Students must bring lunch each day.  We can’t heat or refrigerate food, so please send an ice pack or thermos for foods that need to be kept hot or cold.  We do provide a morning snack and students in Stay & Play extended care receive an afternoon snack as well.  
  • Water Bottle – We want to be sure all children stay well hydrated, particularly in the hot months!  Please send a spill-proof (sport-top) water bottle or sippy cup each day. 
  • Nap Mat – All preschool students have a rest time, and will need a nap mat. Three- and four-year-olds have a 25-30 minute rest time. Two-year-olds rest for around 90 minutes. We recommend the tri-fold plastic padded mats found at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. because they’re hygienic and easy to sanitize. 
  • Extra Clothes – Each child should have a seasonally-appropriate change of clothes in their backpack in case of spills or accidents. (These don’t need to conform to the uniform guidelines.)  
  • Smiles! – Lastly, please bring your smile and your positive attitude!  Children notice and take cues from the way their parents react to situations. It’s easiest for kids to adjust to a new school when parents talk positively about it in advance, and assure them they’ll have fun and be in good hands until mom or dad returns.

Ready, Set, Go!

We know there’s a lot to learn but don’t worry.  You’ll feel like a Spanish Schoolhouse pro in no time!  There’s more info on our website, so check here if you’d like to read more.  Our office staff is also happy to help with questions at any time, so feel free to give us a call.  

Learning two languages is a priceless gift, not just for a child, but also for their family and community. We congratulate you for helping to promote cultural understanding and we welcome you to the Spanish Schoolhouse family!  We can’t wait to prepare your child for new beginnings – academically, socially, and culturally! 

spanish schoolhouse new families, spanish schoolhouse students; preschoolers sack race' happy preschoolers

So, what do you think?