Courtney Caron – Program Director
Christina Valdez – Executive Director
Having opened in the fall of 2015, Listos Preschool and Childcare is Rochester’s first dual immersion early learning program, which provides a diverse, inclusive, high-quality bilingual education. The guiding mission is apparent in the name Listos, which means both smart and ready in Spanish, the goal of a curriculum designed to prepare kids for kindergarten and the world.
Listos is the culmination of a grassroots effort to create a high-quality early learning center for children that prioritizes a global curriculum. Accepting children of all language abilities, children at Listos experience art, math, science, music, literacy and movement in both Spanish and English, and through immersion grow to be skilled speakers in each. Thanks to bilingual staff, both Spanish- and English-speaking families can communicate directly with their child’s teachers, without an interpreter.
Immersion has a major positive effect on the 36 children currently enrolled at Listos. Early language learning has positive effects on brain structure, builds a desire to learn well past preschool age, increases curiosity about the world, and builds confidence in language abilities. In an increasingly diverse community, these language skills are vital tools for success for these children now and in their future.
As a Four Star Parent Aware rated program, Listos receives coaching and evaluations ensuring the highest quality early learning environment possible, and provides supports to families to apply to receive Early Learning Scholarships. As the demand for this type of culturally-relevant program grows, scholarships will be a major resource to keep this opportunity affordable and accessible.
Currently, seven children receive support from Early Learning Scholarships, with another 11 receiving School Readiness Scholarships. This funding is crucial in helping families afford this high-quality early learning opportunity – but these scholarships cannot cover the full costs, and several families are on waiting lists. To assist families, Listos accepts tax-deductible donations and offers internal scholarships for families most in need. Listos also seeks out grants and holds fundraisers to support programming, outreach and scholarships throughout the year.
This is not the only way that Listos helps families. They also empower families to read to their children in their home language and promote the understanding of the effectiveness of literacy skill transfer between languages. Listos also has a Community Literacy Program providing parents with opportunities, age-appropriate reading materials, resources, support and guidance for reading to their children in Spanish. Those skills give children a strong foundation to be successful readers in kindergarten.
Listos has quickly become a key member of the community and actively seeks out partners to build upon its programming. Partnerships include celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month with the Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester, activities at the Rochester International World Festival, and monthly Spanish-language storytimes at the Rochester Public Library.
Together, the curriculum and partnerships are making a strong impact for children and families. 100% of Listos graduates meet the research-based national standards of kindergarten readiness as defined in the 38 domains in Teaching Strategies Gold. It’s providers like Listos that show the positive impact that high-quality early childhood care and education make every day for Minnesota’s youngest learners.