Punana Leo o Hilo offers unique learning opportunities; Enrollment open for 2019-20 preschool year

  • Courtesy photo Punana Leo o Hilo keiki during a class. The school is now accepting applications for its preschool program for the 2019-20 school year

Punana Leo o Hilo, part of the state’s only continuous Hawaiian Medium Education program available from preschool through college, is now accepting applications for its preschool program for the 2019-2020 school year. Ohana can enroll keiki ages 2 years and 8 months up to 6 years old.

The enrollment deadline is April 15.


“Our goal is to create a rich and stimulating honua (environment) for our keiki, and a strong support system for their ohana,” said Kayla Asing, Punana Leo employee and parent.

Parents also engage in hui kipaepae weekly language and culture classes, la ohana family days and other activities to reinforce learning olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language) at home. Through this family-based approach, Punana Leo’s exclusive Hakalama literacy method (syllabary system) and comprehensive cultural curriculum, keiki learn to speak Hawaiian within just three to four months while also developing social, intellectual and perceptual motor skills. The majority also graduate preschool reading and writing at advanced levels.

The Punana Leo o Hilo site also offers an integrated outdoor curriculum, where keiki learn about environmental stability through composting, planting, harvesting and preparing meals from the school’s garden. Sharing a campus with Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu, a K-12 laboratory school under the Hawaiian Language College, keiki also have a unique opportunity to participate in a five-month bridge program to familiarize them with the kindergarten experience prior to graduating, allowing for a smoother transition to elementary school.

Learning various mele (songs) and hula (dances) throughout the year, Punana Leo o Hilo also offers keiki opportunities to participate in events such as Nawahiokalaniopuu’s annual hoolaulea, Pulama Mauli Ola; the annual Keaau Christmas parade; and the annual Merrie Monarch Festival Parade.


“It is essential that we provide our keiki with the knowledge, tools and education that they will need to be successful in life,” said Breeani Lee, Punana Leo o Hilo parent. “Part of this education comes from school, and the other part comes from home. The best part of Punana Leo is that the two parts are interconnected. Punana Leo helps us to be the best teachers to our keiki by allowing us to a part of something bigger than ourselves which grows us to be makua that our keiki deserve.”

For more information or to apply, visit www.ahapunanaleo.org.

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