FAQ • Preguntas Frecuentes
HOW DO YOU TEACH THE CHILDREN SPANISH?
Ours is a high-quality, play-based program that just happens to be conducted entirely in Spanish. The children learn or improve their Spanish as they play and interact with their Spanish-speaking peers and teachers. We also read books and sing songs in Spanish. As a child-led program, you will not see us doing a lesson on colors, for example. However, you might hear a teacher comment on the colors a child is using to draw or see him/her spark a meal-time conversation about the different colored clothing the children are wearing that day.
DO ALL THE CHILDREN AT CENTRO LAS OLAS ALREADY SPEAK SPANISH?
Although we reserve two spots for children who are new to Spanish, most of the children at Las Olas have had some exposure to Spanish prior to enrollment, either through a parent or a caregiver. Although all of these students understand Spanish, they vary greatly in their ability or confidence in speaking it. We have Spanish-dominant children who do not speak English at home, children who are so-called “balanced bilinguals” but speak only in Spanish while at school, children who are able to speak Spanish but require encouragement, and those who communicate in Spanish using short phrases and key words only. The only time you will hear teachers speak English is if a child who is new to Spanish clearly needs comforting or reassurance. No one’s needs go unmet just because they are still mastering Spanish.
DO ALL OF THE TEACHERS SPEAK SPANISH?
Only parents with native-like fluency are allowed to participate in the classroom as teachers.
WHAT ARE YOUR TEACHER'S QUALIFICATIONS?
Our head teacher and director, Bethica Quinn, has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as a head teacher at the Mills College lab school for many years. Rosalina Rodriguez, our teacher, has a California Associate Teacher Credential and ten years of classroom experience. Two parent volunteers join the teaching team each day. Although it is not a requirement, many of our participating parents just happen to be teachers by training. Several of them have taught in bilingual settings, including Spanish-immersion programs.
WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND YOUR PROGRAM?
Our program is based on the premise that children learn best through play. What looks like play is hard work as the children master the social and verbal skills they need to collaborate and negotiate conflict, practice gross and fine motor skills, and absorb key learnings about basic physics and mathematics. Teachers find ways to extend the children’s play and develop in-depth projects to explore some of the passions the children have expressed through their daily play.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARENTS IN A COOPERATIVE?
At Centro Las Olas, families are expected to contribute to the education program and the operation of the school. Parent participation keeps costs low, builds a sense of community, and allows parents to be directly involved with their child’s development and education. Parent participation takes on many forms, both in-class and behind-the-scenes. In-class participation is an option for families with a fluent Spanish speaker whose schedule permits a weekly classroom volunteer commitment and attendance at a monthly evening workshop. If this does not work for your family, you can opt to pay a nonparticipation fee instead.
Forms of participation expected of all families, regardless of classroom teaching status, include:
• Year-long school jobs such as fundraising, marketing, events, newsletter writing, enrollment, maintenance, and more
• Bi-monthly meetings
• Parent work days
• Fundraising events
• Service on our Board of Directors
Parent participation builds community, and families also participate in “fun” events that bring parents and children closer together, such as:
• Picnics and play dates
• Cultural events
• Parents’ nights out
• End of the year “graduation” party
HOW MANY CHILDREN ATTEND CENTRO LAS OLAS? WHAT IS YOUR TEACHER/STUDENT RATIO?
On any given day, there are 16 children and 4 adults.
WHAT ARE THE PROGRAM HOURS?
The program is five mornings a week, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A nutritious snack and hot lunch are served daily.
CAN MY CHILD ATTEND FEWER THAN 5 DAYS A WEEK?
Children who are Spanish-dominant or already use Spanish exclusively in the classroom have the option of attending two or three days a week, provided there is an appropriate opening. Children who are still mastering Spanish are required to attend five mornings a week. If you are interested in attending part-time, just let us know if you prefer Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and whether this is a preference or requirement.
DO YOU OFFER EXTENDED CARE AFTER SCHOOL?
We have no plans at present to offer full-time care. However, do not let that dissuade you from applying. Some of our parents have made arrangements to share babysitters in the afternoons; others have gotten some of our community’s stay-at-home parents to watch their children after school. With a little creativity and effort, we are confident that a solution can be found.
HOW OLD DO CHILDREN NEED TO BE TO ATTEND LAS OLAS?
See the birthdate for this year on the main admissions page. In general, children spend two to three years at Las Olas before heading to kindergarten. They need not be toilet trained when they enroll.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION CRITERIA?
We look at several factors. Our goal is to have a good balance of gender, age, temperament and Spanish-language skills in our classroom, as well as working toward diversity in as many ways as possible.
CAN I VISIT YOUR SCHOOL?
Our school is small and the children find visitors quite distracting. That’s why we host evening Open Houses. Prospective families have an opportunity to see our facilities, learn about our program, and meet parents and staff.
HOW DOES THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS WORK?
Applications are due on January 1 for the following school year and families will be notified of our admissions decision in March. Should there be unanticipated openings prior to September, we will consider all applications received to date, provided the child has already turned two.