How was Mi Escuelita started?
Yvonne Gonzalez is an artist from Chile. She soon discovered that she has natural abilities with children and started working at The Thompson Street Playgroup, in Soho NYC in 1995. Yvonne was the Head Teacher/ Director at The Thompson Street Playgroup for about 10 years before leaving to start her own school in 2005. Due to popularity and demand, Mi Escuelita opened another location (#2) a year later. Overall, Yvonne has over 20 years of experience working with children and developing a curriculum that is based on language, arts, sciences, social interaction, and nature/environment.
I know Mi Escuelita is a Bilingual School, how do you teach children Spanish?
Most teachers speak Spanish at Mi Escuelita. We try to approach the language in an organic and natural way: through play, songs, dance, projects and everyday interactions. Once a week, we have Music Day. Our Music teacher specializes in teaching Spanish through songs and dance with the kids. Each project that we do includes a language aspect where we learn the words in both English and Spanish. The teachers interact with the children in Spanish on a daily basis. Depending on a child’s Spanish ability, a teacher may speak more Spanish with a student who is more familiar with the language.
What age group does Mi Escuelita accept?
We accept children from age 2 to 4.
How are classes combined? And why?
We have always combined our groups into a mixed-age classroom at Mi Escuelita. The children range from 2 to 4 years old. They are exposed to some older friends and also a few younger ones. The mixed-age group environment creates an atmosphere where children learn to help and be helped by other children, as they are interacting with friends whose age and abilities vary. That being said we do approach children individually based on their developmental needs. All the children are given the ability to work at their own pace, as the classroom set up is geared to multiple age groups. The li’l ones learn manners, respect, responsibility and problem solving skills by watching their peers, while the older friends are learning patience, tolerance, and leadership from their younger peers.
What are the teacher’s qualifications and experiences?
The current teachers do not have masters in early childhood education however they all have higher education in various fields, which contributes to and broadens the curriculum. All our teachers have many years of experience working with children and are very passionate about what they do. We value knowledge and wisdom through experience, dedication and passion.
Is Mi Escuelita licensed?
Yes. The daycare school is regulated by Department of Health. Mi Escuelita is licensed under DOH, which we renew every 2 years. In order to obtain the license, all the teachers (including assistants) have to have 60 hours of Health and Safety training, CPR/First Aid training every two years, along with various other courses regarding the Principles of Childhood Development, Nutrition and Health Needs, Child Health, and Safety and Security procedures.
Are the teachers trained in CPR and First Aid?
Yes, it is a requirement by the Department of Health that all the staff are trained in Pediatric CPR/First Aid every two years.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
We take children who are still in diapers and phasing into potty training as well as fully potty trained children. We take a very gentle, natural and loving approach. When your li’l one is ready and showing an interest at home we can begin the potty training phase here in school. During this time communication between parents and teachers plays a vital role.
What special activities do you do with the kids?
Weather permitting, we bring the children outside everyday. Outdoor activities vary but usually consist of playground time, outdoor walks or just walking right into our backyard garden area and play with our bicycles, sandbox, play house, or simply enjoying some fun games. The children attend a weekly yoga session weekly at Kula Yoga in the neighborhood, with our amazing yoga teacher Mariangela. Music class is also a weekly activity that the children really enjoy with our teacher Natalia. Both teachers are fully bilingual and always gently incorporate Spanish into their weekly classes. We also love to cook with the li’l ones and do a cooking project at least twice a month. We hope during your visit you have a chance to see some of our beautiful artwork which is also a part of their daily activity. Most importantly they are encouraged to learn through play during our daily free play periods.
What is the transition period at the beginning like?
Please see the Separation/Adjustment document at this link. (.pdf)
What are the naps like?
During nap times the li’l ones are all on mats with their personal blankets/small pillows and even a nap time buddy (stuffed animal) from home. Our goal is to make this time as comfy as possible.
Do you provide Pre-K?
The possibility of staying with Mi Escuelita for the last year before kindergarten is always an option.
Where do most students from Mi Escuelita go on to after Mi Escuelita?
There are several schools we have heard amazing things about: P.S. 84, P.S. 132, the Children’s Workshop and the Earth School are some which come highly recommended by our Mi Escuelita community.
What is your selection process?
We select students base on equal distribution of boys/girl and age ratio. We try our best to makes sure each class has half boy and half girls and have students from different ages (2-4). We believe it is most beneficial to conduct the classroom in a healthy diverse setting.We also try to select families who have similar and/or interest in our teaching philosophies/sensibilities. Our goal is to create a sense of community that goes beyond the time spent at Mi Escuelita alone.
Priority goes to alumni and current students. We begin contacting families as soon as space is available. First come, first serve. A deposit of $2,500 is required to reserve the spot, which is non-refundable. The deposit will go towards the tuition. You will only be required to make a deposit if you are offered the space.