Early Childhood

Preschool at HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) is unique. Our Early Childhood program offers 90 to 100% language immersion during the day and a supportive environment for students as young as 2 years of age. Our commitment to full immersion ensures that our students acquire advanced language proficiency.

The leadership of HudsonWay Immersion School has extensive experience developing model immersion programs, and we cultivate a diverse student body that enriches our community. HWIS celebrates all cultures, and holidays are enjoyed with parental involvement and participation.

The HWIS Early Childhood program offers:

  • a five-day preschool experience to maximize student social-emotional development and classroom cohesiveness
  • native-speaking educators
  • an enviable student-teacher ratio which allows for individualized attention
  • consistent encouragement, support, and resources for students

Theme-based Learning

With the support of the award-winning Creative Curriculum® which provides context for learning content and language, HWIS uses theme-based learning in its Early Childhood program. Through hands-on discovery in language arts, math, science and social studies, children have the freedom to explore based on their own interests.

Our children also develop their fine motor and gross motor skills as they participate in projects using clay, playdough, blocks, painting, and other art activities. HWIS incorporates musical group activities such as singing, dancing and playing rhythm instruments to enhance the fun of school as well as the understanding of other cultures.

Social-emotional Learning

At HWIS, social-emotional learning is a core focus of the Early Childhood experience. We believe that helping young children experience and manage emotions, relate to one another, and make good choices are important foundational skills for life.

The role of positive reinforcement cannot be overstated. It encourages children to take risks, and when they take positive risks, school becomes fun. Children learn they can succeed in school and in the wider world.

Being immersed at an early age develops children into confident learners. They become open to communicating in another language and interacting with people of different cultures.

Preschool FAQs

1How have preschoolers adjusted with separation?
Experience has shown that a smooth beginning ensures long term benefits. For this reason students are separated from parents or caregivers through a gradual process which may begin with the presence of parents but transitions them out of the classroom over the first few days. Teachers maintain the immersion environment even during this transition.
2Do most children come in with a background in the language? If not, how can they understand what is being discussed?
Nearly 80% of our students do not have prior language exposure. Our preschool teachers are specifically trained to support students in developing their language comprehension. They do this through using total physical response, or body movements which communicate the meaning of what is being said. They teach using the theory of “multiple intelligences” which addresses the different ways in which children learn such as kinesthetic, visual, musical, spatial etc. They use closed or open-ended questions based on knowing the language level and scaffolding appropriately. The daily routine provides consistency and opportunities to practice using the language. Finally, using 6-8-week themes support the cycling of vocabulary in different contexts optimizing language development.
3How can children express themselves if they don’t have enough language?
Children will experience a silent period of several months when learning a new language. During this time children’s brains are taking in a variety of stimuli, actively watching teachers and peers. They can make their needs known through gestures. By the time they are completed with their first year, they may be able to comprehend nearly all of what a teacher is saying, respond in phrases or complete sentences, and sing songs and understand stories being read to them.
4What is the schedule and how are children engaged for the day?
Children ages 2-3 are offered the option of a half day which is from 8:30am -12:00pm or a full day from 8:30am-3:30pm. Students in the pre-K 4’s program are full day from 8:30am-3:30pm. When students arrive to school, they gently transition in centers, then have both whole group and small group experiences in centers in the target language, English, snack, outdoor recess, lunch, nap and centers and a final whole group closing and dismissal.
5What is the student to teacher ratio?
The student teacher ratio differs depending on the age of the child: It is 5:1 for the 2’s, 7:1 for 3’s and 8:1 for 4’s. Low student teacher ratios maximize opportunities for language development.
6What are some examples of the theme-based learning and how is it integrated across the curriculum?
Students will be immersed in a theme for 6-8 weeks. A theme on community, for example, may involve reading storybooks such as “Dr. Desoto”, taking part in dramatic play re-enacting a restaurant, or laundromat. Students may create a community in the block center, measure the distance between buildings in a math center, or draw a group mural of a community in art. Through exposure to essential questions week after week, children deepen their understanding and critical thinking.
7How are students developing social-emotional skills and character? Examples?
Our caring and nurturing teachers spend time getting to know each child and how best to support him or her. They promote values of kindness and empathy through modeling and discussions in class and follow it up with a positive behavior system. They also celebrate the diversity in our classes by talking about differences including race. This has been discussed in professional development as supporting healthy self-identity.
8How do we develop math skills in preschool?
Students develop a strong math foundation with the support of teachers trained in Singapore Math or Math in Focus and using manipulatives that support concrete math exploration. This school year, our Kindergarten students have well prepared math skills, with all of them assessed at Grade 1 math level.
9Does my child have to be toilet trained?
No, children do not have to be toilet-trained to attend preschool. We will work with parents to support the timing of each child for toilet training.
10What is the value of this experience if my child only attends the preschool?
A full immersion preschool experience in which 90—100% of the instruction is in the target language provides a solid language foundation for children to learn academic content in the elementary immersion program. Students who transition early to a monolingual program for elementary will likely forget the language gained, not reach the language proficiency they would have had they stayed in the program and not receive the cognitive benefit of moving to giftedness which we see if students staying 4+ years in our program. Immersion is a long-term commitment with students transferring to another ongoing school, usually for Grade 6 or 9.

Parent Testimonials

Our daughter is in her second year at Hudson Way, and we're so grateful to have her in the program. She is thriving with her teachers and classmates. We chose the school to provide our daughter with exposure to another language as we only speak English at home. She comes home singing songs in Mandarin and had already started translating words for us. At age 3, social and emotional support is just as important as language development, and her teachers have been really wonderful. She is so excited to go to school every day and comes home happy. It really means the world to our family to see her grow through school.

For the time of covid: We were in the 2s program when New York City initially shut down during the global pandemic. Those early days were so chaotic as no one knew what to expect all over the city. However, we were so impressed with how quickly HWIS responded with an effective remote learning program. They very quickly developed their program with flexibility and a very large pool of resources... language and music videos, instructions for activities, worksheets, live classes and one-on-one instruction catered to the level of each student. Teaching two-year-olds on zoom is a challenge, and we really appreciated the approach taken by her teacher, Lucy, who brought empathy and flexibility to the situation.

— Kate Fletchall

Our experience at HWIS could not be better. Our daughter is in the Spanish program and she absolutely loves it. We do not speak Spanish at home (I've been trying to learn for 10 years!) and our daughter was already speaking better than me in her first year at the school (at 4-years-old!) Beyond learning a second language, the quality of academic instruction at the school is exceptional. The small class sizes allow for individualized attention and cater to the progression of the child, while allowing for group and class cooperation as well. Our daughter's teacher is amazing! She is knowledgeable, capable and nurturing, as well as accessible and proficient. She inspires our daughter to love learning and makes it enjoyable for her everyday. The community of the school including teachers, administrators, students and other parents is positive and supportive. We feel comfortable approaching any of them about anything and know that they listen. They have handled the COVID pandemic with great competence. Our daughter continues to go to school safely in-person, and the degree of education and socialization she is receiving far surpasses parents I speak to at other schools. This was also the case during the remote learning period in Spring of 2020. We were amazed at how smooth the transition was, and just how much actual learning was still happening.

— Sarah Niska’s