Pūnana Leo Preschools
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, they are 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 13 Pūnana Leo throughout the state of Hawai‘i located on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. As laboratory schools of Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, the ʻAha Pūnana Leo preschools are the world’s first accredited early education program conducted through an endangered and indigenous language. The accreditation was issued by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).
Our goals are to
(1) Create a supportive environment where students and their families develop the ability to communicate effectively in the Hawaiian language, understand and appreciate Hawaiian culture and values and participate confidently in contemporary Hawaiian society, and
(2) Execute a program that ensures kindergarten readiness in areas of age-appropriate social, intellectual, and perceptual motor skills.