Spanish students go back to preschool |

Spanish students go back to preschool

A group of local preschoolers and their high school buddies celebrated with handmade books and homemade tamales recently, as the first semester drew to a close.

For the past nine weeks, Karen Hutchinson’s 26 Spanish III students at Tahoe-Truckee High School have been making weekly visits to the Truckee State Preschool both to hone their Spanish-speaking skills and encourage the little ones to start reading early on. Students were partnered up with a preschooler, for whom they each wrote a personalized children’s story featuring their buddy.

“I made these stories part of my students’ final exam,” Hutchinson said. “I knew they would do better work for their little friends than for my class alone.”

Hutchinson said this program was an incredibly valuable experience for her students.

“There’s nothing like speaking a language with native speakers when you’re trying to learn,” she said. “This was an extremely safe, natural, non-judgmental way to practice their Spanish conversation skills and the little ones were excellent teachers.”

According to Susan Bruno, program director of the Truckee State Preschool, the high school students were equally as helpful to her little students, most of whom speak Spanish as their primary language.

“We’re really trying to stress literacy early on,” Bruno said. “Now, [these preschoolers] are holding books, made especially for them, in which they are the main character. To me, this was really the ultimate, and the books are something we hope parents treasure for a long time.”

“The children are the heroes in these books, in their own language,” Bruno said.

Hutchinson said she plans to continue the program next semester due to its success and popularity.