By Brittany Anderson
Hays County parents with preschool-aged children and younger have the unique chance to help them become bilingual during a very prime time of their life.
The International Immersion Center (INIC) Preschool, founded in south Austin in 2012, is a Spanish-language immersion school for children aged 3 months to 5 years.
Owner Nik Ciccone said that most students that come to the school, as well as their parents, have “zero Spanish skills” when they start. Ciccone said that while knowing Spanish is a big advantage to have when living in Texas, young children who are bilingual also have higher learning levels in a variety of academics.
“It’s not just about being bilingual and learning Spanish to learn Spanish because we live in Texas, but also because of the stimulation it creates throughout the brain that helps their development in so many other ways,” Ciccone said. “Young brains can really absorb a lot of information; they’re very flexible in the way they work. They can adapt to new stimuli like a language a lot more effectively than someone who is older.”
Ciccone explained that during a typical day at INIC, children have time to play and interact with other students, and that they receive full curriculum for several hours that is focused on being interactive through games and activities.
“What makes us different [from other bilingual schools in the area]is that we really are immersion-immersion,” Ciccone said. “When kids come through the door, it’s all Spanish, all day long in every classroom, and that’s all they’re going to hear.”
Over the last couple of years, the school has served around 15 families from the Hays County area. Along with their south Austin location, INIC will open up a new location in Round Rock on July 5 and are currently pre-enrolling students at www.inic-edu.com/admissions.
Both locations also host summer camps for children up to seven years old, with educational programs like yoga and cooking classes all in Spanish. More information can be found at www.inic-edu.com/summer-camp-austin.
“It’s the time right now,” Ciccone said. “People are working really hard and getting new jobs and it’s hard to find childcare. I think it’s really helpful when parents have information about a place they might not have heard of before so they have more options.”