Spanish Time at Jersey City's Key Element Learning
Farmers' Markets are a great place for more than produce and baked goods. Especially here in Jersey City, we've found they are a central gathering of local folks and a spot where you can learn about the new things popping up around town. That was how I discovered Key Element Learning; by a flyer pushed into my hand that I nearly refused immediately (I'm that person), until a second glance made me curious to know more about this new resource for the World's Cutest Human.
Most of us know the importance of language, and the doors it opens throughout your life to travel, new acquaintances and experiences, and a richness of culture. But many kids aren't exposed to language until they are in school. For instance, I didn't begin my French study until middle school, but I kept with it through the end of college and thankfully, it stuck.
However, the sooner you expose your children to language -- especially in the first three years -- the easier it is for them to learn and retain what they hear. During the first few years of their lives, children can pick up on different sounds and pronunciations more acutely than we can later in life, especially after age 12.
In our house, a second language is especially important, because Spanish is the Costa Rican Love of My Life's first language. While he has been fluent in English since he was a small child, it is top priority that our daughter is bilingual.
He speaks Spanish to her at home (I'm learning as she does, so they can't have secret conversations behind mommy's back in a couple years), but it will be harder for her to retain since she will only use it with him and his family, or when we are in Costa Rica or another Spanish-speaking country. Her English will come automatically from being raised in the U.S. and from me and my family.
Enter Key Element Learning, stage left, to save the day. They offer French, Spanish, Chinese and Italian classes for kids of all ages, as well as literacy, Zumba and art classes. It's a new, beautiful space just around the corner from the Grove St. PATH station with enthusiastic and sweet teachers.
When I stopped by for more information last week, they invited me to their Halloween Party Open House, and to a demo class for both the Spanish for Tots and Zumba Jr. classes. We did all of the above and loved it so much, we signed up for the Winter 2015 session (we're traveling for much of the rest of the year, so it's pointless to try to jump in during the next two months).
The Spanish class was adorable. The teacher only speaks in Spanish and sings and plays with plastic food and household items that the tots can hold as they hear the words. During our demo class, one little girl was calling out "Azul!" for every blue item in the room. It works!
The Zumba Jr. class was also way too cute for me to handle, as moms and kids (of a pretty wide range in age) stepped and tapped and clapped to the beats. Really, the moms did Zumba and the kids tried their best to stand directly in the way refusing to move, or moving in precisely the opposite direction from the teacher's instruction. Which was a riot and a blast.