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ʻAha Pūnana Leo Preschool accepting applications for enrollment

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‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo preschool is accepting applications for enrollment at 13 preschool sites on five islands.

Established in 1983, the school celebrates nearly 40 years dedicated to reviving ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language).

  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.
  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.
  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.
  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.
  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.

“At ʻAha Pūnana Leo, we are rooted in our mission to create a living Hawaiian language in Hawai‘i and beyond,” said ʻAha Pūnana Leo Luna Ho‘okele Chief Executive Officer Kaʻiulani Laehā. “We know families choose ʻAPL either because they are already speaking ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, or they have a desire to learn. It’s our commitment to assist families that choose ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi as the primary language of their home as well as families who are eager to learn the language.”

To reinforce a continuum between the home and school and prepare new ʻohana and keiki  for their journey, ʻAPL created Hui Kīpaepae for ʻohana and extended community members. Through a series of video lessons led by Kaho‘okahi Kanuha, coupled with live online group instruction, mākua can participate in haʻawina ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to learn vocabulary and sentence structures focused on supporting keiki and ʻohana with utilizing Hawaiian language in their everyday life.  

“Through ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, mele, and other cultural practices, ʻAha Pūnana Leo helps to lay the foundation for a lifetime commitment in understanding and learning who we are as a people and where we want to be in the future,” said Laehā.

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ʻAha Pūnana Leo is the world’s first early education program to be accredited by the World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium. Through the school’s exclusive Hakalama literacy method, new preschoolers learn simple phrases, sentences, and songs with the help of fluent kumu and older classmates.

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Many, if not all, keiki acquire ʻōlelo Hawai‘i within three to four months, and often graduate with advanced reading and writing skills, according to school leaders. Keiki also develop social, intellectual, leadership and perceptual motor skills through classroom lessons, cultural activities, performance opportunities and community service. 

“Hawaiian values are activated by the Hawaiian language,” said Sage Takehiro, Pūnana Leo o Hilo makua. “My keiki have learned operational and cognitive skills from ʻAPL, while I have learned parenting skills from the kumu as well as the other ʻohana. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi unlocks humility, humor, love, forgiveness and awareness. It affects their mood, their behavior, and the way they treat themselves and others; it keeps them in check and wants us to be better people. I chose ʻAPL because I need my keiki to be raised in this growth mindset.”  

‘Aha Pūnana Leo has 13 preschool sites on five islands. PC: courtesy.

Open enrollment is now available for keiki ages two-years and eight-months-old up to six-years old. To learn more or enroll, visit www.ahapunanaleo.org. Spaces are limited.

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