Photo by Kyle Webb
Immersion school opens Lakeway location
Lakeway parents will have the opportunity to immerse their children in culture when Jardín de Niños opens its third location at 107 RR 620, Ste. 300, in Lakeway, scheduled to open in August.
Founded in August 2007, Jardín de Niños, Spanish for Garden of Children, began with 20 students and grew quickly, forming a waiting list for those interested in the school at 8707 Mountain Crest Drive in Austin.
“We just couldn’t accommodate everyone until we expanded our location so we could add more classrooms,” said Adriana Rodriguez, founder and executive director of the school.
In just a few months, the school opened its second location at 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 601, in Austin.
Jardín de Niños prides itself on its worldly culture, immersing students in both Spanish and English languages as well as occasional French and Mandarin Chinese lessons.
The school is currently pursuing accreditation for International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, a huge step for the school.
“We are official candidates,” Rodriguez said. “It would mean a lot to the school. It’s important to have diversity in many ways. We teach the students to think and to be explorers and inquirers, so later, in the future, they can be reflective and constructive and communicators. We want them to be citizens of the world. In order to do that, we have to start when they are little, so our program, International Baccalaureate, starts from 3 years old and up.”
Cultural diversity, while one of the pillars of Jardín de Niños, is not the only thing on which the school focuses.
The school is founded on the idea that reaching children when they are young is the best time to provide much-needed experiences that prepare them for a multilingual and multicultural world.
The school uses inquiry-based activities to help prepare the students, something that was learned from the National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation it received, which only 5 percent of schools in the nation obtain.
“It took us a couple of years to get it, and we are very excited,” said Rodriguez, who holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development from Santa Teresa de Jesus College and a master’s degree in educational development from National Pedagogical University in Mexico City. “The students have to investigate and explore [by] themselves, and share with their classmates and have a reflection about their actions, why this happened, how, when.”
Unlike most schools, Jardín de Niños does not use standardized tests, but instead assesses knowledge based on actions and reflections, according to Rodriguez.
All locations begin with infants continue into grade school, depending on locations. The Mountain Crest Drive location has classes through fourth grade, with the addition of fifth grade next year, while the Anderson Lane location goes until kindergarten. The Lakeway location will most likely go to third grade, but that could vary depending on enrollment.
The school operates in two phases, with full Spanish immersion from infant until 4 years old and a 50-50 split of Spanish and English languages during the school years.
“It’s amazing to see the students speak both Spanish and English fluently,” said Rodriguez. “At this age, the students absorb the language so easily, the more languages you present to your child at an early age, they will learn them. Then when they get a bit older, you will see the fluency. You will see the kids fighting in Spanish or talking with their mom or teacher in Spanish.
“It’s an investment because you want to prepare your child for the future,” Rodriguez added. “To be more global, to be more international. To appreciate your own culture as well as celebrating the others because that’s what we want. We want them to learn from other perspectives.”
The person leading children to that new perspective at the Lakeway school is Maria Dominguez. Dominguez will take over as the director of the Lakeway school after four years as a teacher and co-director at Jardín de Niños.
“I’m very excited [about the opening of the Lakeway school] because I have been the director here [the school’s second location] for about a year and have worked with Adriana at the south location, and that has helped me build my confidence for the new school,” Dominguez said. “I’m just really looking forward to meeting the kids because it’s a new beginning. I’m very excited.”
Rodriguez is very excited for Dominguez to run the Lakeway school, noting that no one cares more about the children than Dominguez.
“She’s very caring,” Rodriguez said. “You need to have someone you can trust, and I think Maria opens her heart to everyone.”
“I think we can make a huge difference in [the children’s] lives,” Dominguez said.
Jardín de Niños, 107 RR 620, Ste. 300, Lakeway, 299-5731, www.austinbilingualschool.com