(This post is sponsored by CommuniKids.)
If you have a small child, this headline probably got your attention.
Parents who have participated in the DC Public Schools pre-K lottery know space is limited in Ward 3, and prior to 2017, none of the DCPS schools in Ward 3 offered pre-K3. That changed in August 2017, when the CommuniKids language immersion preschool in Tenleytown started offering free pre-K to 3 and 4 year olds.
On May 15, 2018, a hot day in DC, Mayor Bowser arrived at CommuniKids Tenleytown to celebrate additional OSSE funding for more free pre-K3 and 4 seats. CommuniKids doubled enrollment in its program in Tenleytown and a few months later, opened CommuniKids UDC.
This August, CommuniKids opens its fifth Ward 3 location, at 2121 Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, and yes, it will offer free pre-K3 and 4 in addition to its other services. At the new Glover Park location, CommuniKids will offer Mandarin as well as a Spanish immersion education, which is known to improve cognitive skills and stimulate creativity. The 8,900 square foot, state-of-the-art preschool facility will accommodate 140 children between the ages of 18 months and pre-K4, and provide students with an outdoor private play space.
CommuniKids’ existing programs will continue at Tenleytown, UDC/Van Ness, Cathedral Commons, and Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church, making CommuniKids one of the largest providers of free pre-K in DC. CommuniKids also has a school in Falls Church, Virginia.
In 2003, CommuniKids got its start thanks to six families, six toddlers, and two parents who understood that the window of opportunity for language learning opens at a young age. Founders Jeannine Piacenza and Raúl Echevarría, along with a few other like-minded families, founded Caterpillar Cooperative Preschool in the basement of Tenleytown’s Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church. Most of the participating families were speaking a language other than English at home and wanted to support the development of their multilingual children. Within two years, the group grew into an organized immersion program with paid professional teachers and a full Spanish-immersion curriculum.
Astounded at how fast their own children picked up the language, Jeannine and Raúl founded CommuniKids in 2005, offering weekly classes in Spanish—with Raúl taking care of the teaching and Jeannine managing the administration. In 2007, CommuniKids expanded to Falls Church and added Mandarin, French, and Arabic languages in both locations. Recognizing that extended time immersed in another language translated to better fluency, Jeannine and Raúl decided to establish full-time preschool programs in DC and in Falls Church in 2009. From the beginning, the school founders were committed to a play-based, developmentally appropriate approach to early childhood learning, so accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) was the next natural step for their schools.
In addition to the free pre-K lottery, CommuniKids participates in the DC Childcare Subsidy Program. Applications are being accepted now for CommuniKids summer camp and preschool at all locations. For more details, to apply, or register for a virtual tour, please visit CommuniKids.com.