By Helen Wong
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) will host an open house on Aug. 20 to debut its new bilingual, intergenerational preschool — the first of its kind in western Washington. This unique preschool will be located on the campus of the Asian-inspired Aegis Living senior community in Newcastle. Building on the organization’s long history of successful early learning programs, CISC’s newest preschool will promote a bilingual and bicultural learning environment, providing students with the skills necessary for school readiness and dual language fluency, while at the same time promoting the development of a positive self-identity, a respect for others, compassion, and a curiosity for lifelong learning.
“Now more than ever, it is important to increase social and emotional skills,” says Hueiling Chan, program director at CISC and founder of the preschool. “Students need to develop not just their IQ, but also their EQ (emotional quotient)” to navigate today’s complex, fast paced, and ever changing world and to lead with a social conscience and stewardship. The new preschool will provide English and Mandarin-based learning and school readiness skills, and it is open to all who embrace the values of diversity, inclusion, an anti-bias curriculum, and this learning approach.
The preschool’s location at Aegis Gardens will provide opportunities for the young children and older adult residents to participate in meaningful activities to foster intergenerational education and social connections. Moreover, the preschool room is conveniently located adjacent to the Stan Head Cultural Center, a new public cultural gathering place for the Eastside Asian community, which will further enhance the learning environment.
Having a preschool located within an Aegis Living facility has been a longtime dream for Aegis Living CEO Dwayne Clark, who firmly believes that “shared spaces work — everyone benefits from enhanced understanding.” Clark points to studies of intergenerational programs showing that children feel valued and enjoy getting more time and attention from seniors, and seniors benefit from having a purpose in passing along knowledge to the next generation.
The preschool’s curriculum will focus on active participatory learning to enable children to develop the important social-emotional and cognitive skills needed to be thoughtful learners and leaders in their community. CISC’s approach incorporates the latest early childhood education methods, while also demonstrating a unique understanding of what children from immigrant communities need to strengthen their cultural identity and connect to the broader community. Moreover, the preschool will support individual and group problem solving with teachers skillfully guiding and facilitating – not directing – each child’s interest and needs. “This method not only develops students’ analytical and problem-solving skills, but will set students up to successfully navigate school, careers, and family life in two (or more) cultures,” Chan said.
The CISC Bilingual Preschool at Aegis Gardens, located at 13056 S.E. 76th Street, Newcastle, WA 98056, is currently enrolling for the September 2018-2019 year. For more information or to rsvp to the open house, contact Helen Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.