Hello. I am Maria Van Dyke, founder and director of Spanish for Toddlers. I started a daycare center in my home in 2002, after some parents from my community expressed an interest in their children playing and learning in Spanish. That daycare has since developed into Spanish for Toddlers (a local Spanish Immersion Montessori preschool that teaches preschoolers and kindergarteners), now located in the Hunter Community Center in Clawson (off of Main and 14 Mile).
In the program, teachers communicate with the children solely in Spanish to make it easier for them to pick up the language. Children are expected to ask questions and respond in Spanish as well. Research shows it is easier for a person to pick up a second language before the age of 5. In fact, the younger the learner, the easier the transition. When they are little, they are not afraid to speak and make mistakes.
Teaching the children to learn Spanish is quite easy. Spanish is the first language for all twelve of the teachers at the preschool, and we typically staff two or three teachers per class period. When the teachers explain to their students how something feels or looks, they demonstrate what they are talking about. If we, for instance, want to teach them about different temperatures - hot, cold, warm - instead of using just English translation, we fill up bottles with water with different temperatures, and the kids can feel what caliente feels like, what frío feels like.