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Hidden Gems: Meet Natalie Standridge of Casa de Corazón

December 14, 2021
Photo Credit: Ester Knowlen

Natalie has been working in the field of Early Childhood education since 1999 and began her now multi-location program in 2002. Prior to her work experience she graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota receiving a bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science, a minor in Spanish, and an area of emphasis in cultural youth studies. Natalie’s interest in young children has been forming since she was one of them! As she grew up, her parents taught Lamaze and Infant Massage classes, led La Leche Leagues, and fostered pre-adoptive newborns. Natalie had heard more birth stories, taken more first aid training, and cared for more babies by the age of 16 than most people do in a lifetime.

But her inspiration to create something unique to the field of early education came when she needed child care for her own first born. After searching extensively, she couldn’t find anyone providing high quality, dual language child care. There were no Spanish immersion schools at the birth to 5 level in Minnesota. In fact, the popular belief at that time was that bilingual children suffered delayed brain development. The research that has emerged since then has changed everything. Now we know that bilingual brains are actually more healthy, complex, and actively engaged, and have higher levels of executive function. We also know that the brains of children under the age of five have more plasticity to process language using both hemispheres, and therefore their language learning includes more social and emotional processing in addition to the analytical processing that adult second-language learners use.

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