The Spring Valley Alianza Eco International School opened its doors to the Spring Branch community in 2019, offering a new early childhood educational opportunity in the neighborhood: Immersion in the Spanish language.

The school’s comprehensive, play and science-based curriculum is designed to help children ages 3 months to 5 years old grow while learning a second language.

Students are introduced to Spanish through two language acquisition programs, Total Physical Response and Natural Approach. By introducing the Spanish language through music, games and physical activities, students begin learning a second language through daily interactions. The approach allows children to naturally pick up the language, the same way their first language is learned.

Classrooms are led by native Spanish-speaking teachers and give students an opportunity to learn new vocabulary words every day.

“Our students are immersed in Spanish in a setting that is supportive and individualized,” explained Alianza Eco School Spring Valley owner Arnaud Gandoulf. “Each day students are encouraged to speak Spanish by using their new vocabulary in songs and other motivational activities.”

The campus serves 80 students and is at maximum capacity. However, school leaders are excited to announce that they will be expanding their building and enrollment slots to better serve the Spring Branch community. For now families are on a wait list to enroll their children.

Families can schedule a tour on the campus website and learn more about the intake process, which includes a “shadow(ing) visit” and a chance to spend an hour in a classroom to experience the school’s educational approach.

The school also offers after school programs and summer camp sessions for children as well as Spanish lessons for adults.

Other Alianza Spanish immersion schools serve the Katy, Cypress, Cinco Ranch and Heights areas of the Houston region, in which Spanish is widely spoken and bilingual individuals are considered to have advantages in their academics, social interactions and the local job market.

Or, as the school says, “Learning a language opens the doors to the world.”

And studies have shown that learning more than one language is easiest for the youngest students.

Alianza’s educational approach has students take part in a hands-on discovery learning. This gives each child an opportunity to utilize all senses and express their desires to learn — including but not limited to problem-solving among classmates, creative thinking and exploration.

The curriculum is inspired by the world-renowned Reggio Emilia Approach from Italy.

Gandoulf added, “We know that every child has a potential to learn from their surroundings and in our schools our staff emphasizes social collaboration and group work, where each child is an equal participant.”

“We are committed to serving the Spring Branch community with enthusiasm and professionalism because we know how important it is to entrust your child’s care and nurturing to others,” he said.

— By Valonia Walker