The Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) will open the first bilingual and intergenerational preschool in the Puget Sound region this autumn, at Aegis Gardens in Newcastle.

Aegis Living, a leader in assisted living and memory care communities, opened Aegis Gardens in February of 2018. This ultra-niche community brings together seniors — and soon preschoolers — who enjoy celebrating and honoring the Chinese culture.

Aegis, preschool

Courtesy Chinese Information and Service Center Preschool.

The CEO of Aegis Living, Dwayne S. Clark, aspired to make this community different, and knew a partnership like a multigenerational preschool was something he wanted to do long before it was a possibility.

“Sadly, so often, people separate the care of elders and small children; when more research shows that both of these so-called ‘book-end’ generations benefit from being together — especially in structured programs,” Clark said in a statement.

This unique partnership will bridge generations and cultures. Preschool students will work in English on Tuesdays and Thursdays and in Mandarin Chinese on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

The students will connect with the residents of Aegis Gardens for special weekly activities to nurture their cultural growth and social and emotional development. Joint activities will include cooking, reading, stories, and arts and crafts; cultural exploration will also be emphasized through calligraphy, origami, painting, and Chinese holidays. The seniors will feel a sense of purpose in passing down tradition and stories, and the children will gain a wealth of knowledge from the seniors’ first-hand accounts.

The preschool room is located in the Stan Head International Cultural Center on the Aegis Gardens campus, with a beautiful and bright room decorated and ready for young learners. The building sits adjacent to a park, trails, and Lake Boren, which the instructors plan to explore with the students.

Founder and Program Director of CISS, Hueiling Chan, started the program to encourage children to develop through free play and independent decision-making. The approach integrates the HighScope curriculum, which promotes active learning through hands-on experiences.

“Now, more than ever, it is important to increase social and emotional skills,” Chan said in a statement.  “Students need to develop not just IQ, but also EQ (emotional quotient).”

The multigenerational preschool is not only a unique experience for the students, but also for the seniors.

The new preschool will open in September for its first year and is now taking open enrollments. To see the school for yourself, attend the open house August 20, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, contact the CISC Preschool at Aegis Gardens at (425) 240-5825.