Pūnana Leo means language nest, and just as young fledglings are fed directly from the mouths of their mothers, Hawaiian language is fed into the ears of our 3- and 4-year old students from the mouths of the Hawaiian language speakers around them. From the moment a Pūnana Leo ʻohana (family) enters preschool, it is immersed in a rich and stimulating honua (environment) where all must observe the kapu of “Hawaiian language only.” The observance of the kapu helps families and their children learn Hawaiian quickly. New preschoolers learn simple phrases, sentences, and songs with the help of fluent kumu (teachers) and older classmates. Many, if not all, Pūnana Leo preschoolers are able to speak Hawaiian within three or four months.
Pūnana Leo classrooms are warm, nurturing places that value and stimulate young minds and prepare them for lifelong learning. Children discover the world through a culturally and age-level appropriate curriculum based on the Kumu Honua Mauli Ola educational philosophy in a safe and secure environment. Our approach to education is through a family-based model. Parents participate in hui kīpaepae weekly language and culture classes held at the school site, lā ʻohana family days, and hoʻihoʻi honua giving back to their school by cleaning the classrooms and school grounds.
There are 11 Pūnana Leo throughout the state of Hawai‘i located on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. All preschools are accredited through the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.
For more information, visit: www.ahapunanaleo.org.