The focus of Los Amiguitos is to enhance the development of the whole child in a global world, with a focus on:
- problem solving
- socio-emotional intelligence
- inquiry and love of learning
- critical thinking
- respect and sustainability of self, others and Nature.
We seek to help children become culturally and linguistically aware and open minded.
We provide a fun, loving and stimulating environment with activities to enhance the whole child’s development.
At Los Amiguitos, we strive to offer an education adapted to each situation and each child, which integrates all components of the children’s development. Some of our major influences for our philosophy of education are Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Forest school, Growing Up Wild, Eco Schools, as well as Project Based, Drama Based, Play Based, Inquiry Based, Story Based, Place Based and Nature Based education.
It is a flexible, structured and inspirational approach, that is experience driven and child lead. It increases inquiry, curiosity and awe, self-esteem, respect, communication, sense of well-being and connection with others and nature, empathy, resilience, independence, physical and emotional health.
Projects make learning meaningful and relevant. They are based on collaboration, working together and using what each child has to contribute, and enable cross curricular education.
The Montessori approach engages children through hands-on self paced learning, independence, multiage groups, and quality of materials.
Together, as a community, children construct their own learning by their curiosity and interests. These are the basis of themes and in depth projects we develop together. Their development is documented. The environment is key to inspiring learning. Parents are invited to participate.
Inspiring in children the life-long love of learning through rich experiences; valuing each child for who she/he is; integrating arts and multiple senses into cross curricular collaborative education.
A focus of the whole child entails developing the multiple intelligences.
A curriculum that builds on children’s amazement and curiosity about nature and integrates art, academic and social skills for a lifelong connection with nature.
Movement based approach that works well for learning another language.
Makes learning come to life while integrating many cognitive, social and emotional skills.
Storytelling, reading books, using puppets and other natural elements around to create stories. These inspire, ignite curiosity, increase connection, foster emotions, integrate learning, engaging and offering so many variety.
The curriculum is developed based on the interest of the children, who learn from real wold experience, trial and error, and making connections. Teachers are facilitators and guides, and adjust for differentiated learning.
“Why?”are some of children’s favorite questions early on. We encourage children to ask questions and seek answers on their own, by using observation, connections, research.
Encourages children to explore, appreciate and become active participants in the change they see is needed, within their community. It integrates all areas of learning.
Benefits of immersion programs
Early childhood is the best time to start picking up a foreign language. Children naturally understand and learn in context, and have a great ability to reproduce sounds from foreign languages. Besides getting a head start in the acquisition of Spanish and French, the children can benefit from learning to communicate with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and improve communication skills in their own language. Research has proven that immersion programs also enhance the development of children’s right and left brain, their creativity, problem solving, listening skills, flexibility in thinking and linguistic intelligence.
Learning to read and write in Spanish is much simpler(vs. English or French)and allows for greater ease at gaining literacy skills. Once the children have acquired the skill, they can transfer it to any other language.
Many, but not all children continue in a dual language setting. Wether your child will continue or not in an immersion program after Los Amiguitos, these benefits will still be very valuable.
Will your child be able to transition to a regular school that is all in English? Yes!
Once they acquire a skill, they can transfer it to another language easily. Since Los Amiguitos teaches the whole child, there is a lot they take with them. On the reading/writing plane, there might be a short phase of confusion for some, but think of it like driving someone else’s car and at first noticing the breaks are slightly different or the lights are placed at a different place. You’ll have a phase of adjustment but you already know how to drive so can figure it out. Plus, the more you do it, the more flexible your brain becomes.
Here are a few links about the benefits of immersion programs and growing up multilingual:The Benefits of Multilingualism
NY Times article on Why Bilinguals Are Smarter
NPR article: Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power
NPR article: 6 potential brain benefits of bilingual education
A multi-age community of learners
Multi-age community of learners offers many benefits:
In a multi-age settings children and mentors get to know each other over the course of several years and develop strong bonds that are critical to the socio-emotional wellbeing of the children.
Research has pointed out that most students in multi-age settings have higher self-esteem, are more helpful, empowered, and do better academically.
This setting enables each child to really develop at his/her own pace, reducing related stress of not fitting in on all levels with other children in the same age group.
Multi-age settings have proven to raise a sense of purpose and community, nurturing, empathy, and IQ for the older children as they help and explain to the younger ones. Young ones learn a lot from older children,
Though preschoolers and school aged children have separate buildings (we use flexible age range to decide where they would best be); all aged Amiguitos spend a lot of time together in the spacious main area outside. They learn a lot from being together, and our curriculum enables most activities to be done in mixed ages and abilities.
A Nature Oriented education
Here are a few links about the importance and benefits of outdoor education:
11 Proven Benefits of Outdoor Learning.
The perks of a play in the mud educational philosophy
Socio-emotional development is as important as academic skills, if not more at this age. It sets the basis for a solid foundation.
Learning to work together, connect, help and care for each other, develop empathy, speak assertively, take turns, listen to others, regulate strong emotions, use breathing, centering, and safe places are some elements we implement in our school community.
At Los Amiguitos, we follow many components of Conscious Discipline. We also add in elements from Mindfulness which gives us tools to regulate our emotions while developing a sense of gratitude, kindness and compassion. Yoga is also integrated into our everyday lives, especially breathing, centering and reconnecting with our body and self. Both Lila and Isis are certified yoga teachers.
It is undeniable that takes a village to raise a child -this is true from the standpoint of children and parents alike. This is why, at Los Amiguitos, there is such a strong emphasis on community building among children as well as parents and mentors.
Through many collaborative projects as well as the development of socio-emotional skills, children learn to work together, voice their feelings and listen to others, respect and care for themselves as well as others and our space, and help each other when the need arises.
Regular community gatherings are much fun for all. Children get to do a short performance that celebrates what they have been doing at school (varying from songs, acting, yoga, to shadow puppets, dance, puppets, etc. based on our themes). Then a potluck follows, which allows for all to get to know each other better.
Families -parents and grandparents, or other close relatives – are regularly invited to come share and help out with the children. They read books, share their passions, build birdhouses or other objects with children, help with the garden and grounds, share about their culture, language, or art form they practice… among many other options. Multi-generation connections are built. These participations are always very special for all.
During vacation time and days off, play dates and kid exchanges often occur, which are much fun for children while helping out parents, and creating deep and lasting friendships that are valuable for all.
For quarterly community work mornings, families come together to work on projects at the school. Everyone pitches in together -even children- to help maintain our beautiful space, while at the same time making meaningful connections.
Field trips and community camp outs also constitute community builders as well as more life experience for all.
Our community camp outs offer a great way to get to know each other in a more relaxed setting, help each other out, explore our surroundings, get familiar with the importance of understanding and respecting nature, and have fun together!
Children at Los Amiguitos learn how they can make a difference within their community, small or large.
A few examples of their participation have been connecting with elders and presenting puppet shows to them, planting trees at different parks in Austin, collecting and distributing food and clothes to those in need, making art to benefit local organizations, making bird houses and feeders, learning about conserving water and organic gardening, writing letters to raise awareness about the environment, cleaning up creeks and parks, sharing our garden produce with our community and donating to local organizations, planting flowers that attract bees, tending to our organic garden, etc…
Through these actions, connections and learning about community needs, children at Los Amiguitos develop a sense of compassion, empathy, conscience of the importance of helping as well as a sense of empowerment.