Dual-language classes now open to pre-K kids

Maria Humphries embarks on her second year of helping pre-K kids master Spanish as a second language. The program is under way at Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School.

Even before kindergarten, Kyrene Corridor kids can become immersed in the Spanish language, thanks to the Bienvenidos Kids Club at Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School.

Maria Humphries, who was influential in starting the club last year and currently teaches the class, said parents can enroll their kids ages 3 to 5-years-old in the tuition-based program.

Teachers use instruction in both English and Spanish, as children participate in hands-on activities that introduce them to the Spanish language.

“The goal of the program is for the kids to learn Spanish,” Humphries said. “Last year, by the end of the program, we were speaking about 85 percent Spanish in the classroom.”

During Tuesday of the first week of school, a group of about eight students sang songs in Spanish, while learning the names of body parts. The kids danced in a circle along with Humphries, singing Spanish phrases.

“We deal with themes, and try to make it really fun with a lot of music and stories,” Humphries said.

By the end of the program, students are using Spanish phrases with confidence, and some are even using full sentences in Spanish.

“There is a huge difference at the end of the school year,” she said. “A lot of students respond in English, but they understand the Spanish questions.”

Kids enrolled in the Bienvenidos Kids Club eventually move on to the dual language kindergarten program at Niños, a free program further immersing students in both English and Spanish.

“At the end of the year, we have a little graduation party, and the parents get really excited,” Humphries said.

“They were very happy about the whole process and how much their kids were learning.”

Information: www.kyrene.org/childcare .

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