Languages: Russian and English, some Spanish
A passion for travel, language and diversity were the seeds that started Little Owlets. Opening its doors in March 2015, the director and owner Aliya Hulse had the vision to bring a multilingual program to the upper Montgomery County area.
Having researched the importance of teaching children a foreign language to boost fluency and seeing firsthand the struggles of learning a language later in life, Aliya wanted to share her bilingual learning environment with families looking to raise bilingual children.
With a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and as a native Russian speaker, her program combines a unique blend of music, arts, math, and foreign language.
About the Staff & The Program…
Little Owlets’ teachers are passionate about teaching and foreign languages. With over 30 years of combined educational experience in both play-based and Montessori-inspired programs, you can rest assured that your child will be taught and nurtured by experienced early childhood professionals.
What sets Little Owlets’ staff apart from other schools?
All teachers speak at least two languages. In all, over five different languages are spoken on any given day in our classrooms.
To keep up-to-date with best practices, teachers are encouraged to continue their studies and take additional training focused on bilingual education, developmental psychology, and educational theories.
Our curriculum is designed with inspiration from Montessori principles, the theories of Jean Piaget, as well as borrowing concepts from other renowned preschool curricula. At Little Owlets, children enjoy periods of intensely focused individual work, small group cooperation, and fun large group activities. Unlike some bilingual programs, we use both Russian and English educational materials to fully immerse students in both languages every day.
A day at Little Owlets…
The day starts with breakfast for most of our students. At Little Owlets, family-style dining is emphasized with teachers sitting alongside the children, practicing key self-help skills and enjoying conversations in Russian and English languages.
After breakfast is Montessori-inspired individual work-time that exposes the little ones to math, language, and problem-solving concepts via various media.
Next, is a fun and interactive bilingual circle-time, allowing the children to participate in choosing songs and activities that interest them the most. Circle time is then followed by a unit-themed activity from their custom curriculum giving the children time to practice their fine-motor coordination, exercise independence, and collaborate with their peers.
Language learning is essential, but so too is the imagination! At Little Owlets, they prioritize outside play time to help children exercise their growing muscles and creativity.
When all of the wiggles are out, children and teachers sit down for another family-style meal for lunch, followed by a quiet time for napping or reading books.
Another highlight of the day is the afternoon bilingual circle time and an energizing activity like dance or yoga!
And, throughout the day, Little Owlets’ teachers use repetition often to familiarize the children with common words in both Russian and English. Plus, using lots of pictures and visuals to help reinforce language concepts keeps young learners practicing their Russian skills all day long.
Word of advice from the director…
For monolingual parents raising bilingual kids
“It is not easy for parents who do not speak the target language to keep up with their children’s acquisition of a foreign language at home. However, it is not impossible. In our program, we have children from exclusively English-speaking, exclusively Russian-speaking, and mixed-language households. We encourage parents to support the language their child is learning as a second language by listening to audio stories with them, having reading materials available at all times, and utilizing visual aids and at times even certain online programs (for the children aged 2 years and older). Studies show that children can be bilingual and understand two or more languages but sometimes may speak only one.
This happens due to the structure of our brain and the sequence of learning a new language. To avoid this situation and train their developing brains, it is important for families to encourage their children to verbally use their ‘weaker’ language more often.”
To request a tour or check out the neat things going on at Little Owlets,
contact the school at via email at email@example.com or call 301-452-3613.