Rochester resident opening a new bilingual daycare in the Tri-Town
ROCHESTER — Roxana and Rob D’Italia used the time when they were stuck at home during a coronavirus shutdown to put in place the final steps of their plan and dream for the first bilingual daycare in the Tri-Town.
The program, called The Learning Tree, will be intentionally small, with just six children and three adults, as a precaution against the virus.
“The goal is to just speak to the kids 100% in Spanish. They are like sponges — they pick it up so quickly,” if they are immersed in the language, Roxana said.
She is from Peru, where she studied public affairs and communications. She moved to the United States 12 years ago and worked at first as an au pair, thinking she would teach Spanish to learn English.
Then she nannied three kids for a span of five years, met Rob and moved back to Marion with him when they married and now she has two children of her own.
The D’Italias have been working to open their own daycare for a while. They had a split residential and commercial property in Marion, and when it didn’t rent for a time, they thought of opening up there with a former pre-school teacher from the Tri-Town. Instead, they got an incredible offer on the property and moved out.
Now they live in Rochester and will run their daycare out of their house, three minutes from Rochester Memorial School and 14 minutes from Center School and Sippican School. They still have strong ties to Marion, and Roxana says that as an avid runner she still knows the roads of Marion like the palm of her hand, and it is where her children have some of their best friends.
The native Spanish speaker is excited to “talk in Spanish all day for the full immersion all day, so I wouldn’t have to teach.” But she has taught Spanish at the YMCA preschool learning center in Marion and volunteered at a Mattapoisett preschool for a whole year to build up her childcare hours.
The D’Italias plan to have the building inspected soon, but said the only holdup in an initial inspection was a fenced in play area outside, which they have since added.
Roxana is just concerned about her participants’ health as much as the building’s safety.
“You have a lot of worry as a parent,” she said. “With coronavirus, many parents are worrying about packing kids into daycares. With 6 kids and two teachers, this is a pretty good deal.”
“I like the fact that the state is mandating that,” Rob said. The two both appreciate the chance to create the kind of small day care they wanted for their children.
They may eventually bring the program up to 10 kids, when it is safe to do so, but for now is committed to keeping the program small. They have also considered expanding into tutoring, or setting up movie nights for kids on Fridays to give the parents a chance to have a date night.