CHESHIRE — A new early language learning school is set to open in town next month.
“Let’s get them while they’re young, when they don’t even know it’s supposed to be hard,” said Matt Colehour, a Cheshire resident and owner of Small World Languages, which he says will open at 205 Academy Road on May 7.
The school features Spanish, French and German instructors, in addition to an infant sign language teacher, with talks already underway to hire an Arabic teacher. Those seven educators will be able to teach up to 125 children between the ages of 3 and 6. There are also about 65 spots for toddlers, alongside private and semi-private instruction.
“We’ve got a lot of registrations already,” said Colehour, who owns the school with his wife Maegen Colehour. “I think we’re going to be successful right off the bat.”
“Right now it’s a must to be able to speak another language. To be able to connect better with the world it’s important to be able to speak another language,” said Claudio Cadrera, of Cheshire, who will be among the school’s four Spanish instructors.
“I’m pretty excited to teach not only the kids, but the parents as well,” Matt Colehour said. “I want them to feel like they’re in another country at school.”
An immigrant from Chile who has been teaching the language for eight years, he said learning a second language opens the mind and expands perception of the world. He said watching his students grow is a rewarding experience.
“They can be the change we need in the future to accept people from different cultures,” Matt Colehour said.
While the school was originally designed with single-language families in mind, Matt Colehour said, “we’ve got a lot of interest from bilingual families as well,” who want to reinforce the “double culture that’s there at home.”
A greater appreciation of diversity was one of the core values children would receive from teaching children multiple languages, he said, in addition to higher test scores, stronger communication skills and better problem solving.
He cited a 2015 survey of teachers and parents of students in the Cheshire school system which found widespread support for teaching additional languages at a younger age than middle school, where it currently begins. The district Office of Curriculum & Instruction found that 93 percent of teachers and 89 percent of parents supported including world language instruction in the elementary school curriculum.
Colehour said they decided to open the school after having difficulty finding lessons for their two children, who are four and one and a half.
“I’m glad I’m doing this while my kids are young,” he said.
Small World Languages will have a focus on involving parents in the process, with them being welcome in the toddler classes and updates given every week on what their kids are learning.
“The parents are sitting down on the circle with the kids,” Matt Colehour said. “The parents have said ‘I wish this was available when I was younger.’”