MADE in Lake County is a paid partnership with Little Lake County
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to Paula Fortini. Paula is the Owner of Lil Language Scholars. Lil Language Scholars offers young children the opportunity to learn a foreign language while their brains are the most adept at recognizing and learning a language.
What was the catalyst that started your business?
I was a bilingual teacher for many years. In all honesty I was dared to reach for my dream of teaching Spanish to children at a much younger age than we currently do in America. Never one to turn away a dare I quit my teaching job and opened Lil Language Scholars. We all know learning a second language at a young age is the best time so I wanted to offer the youngsters in Lake County the opportunity.
How difficult has it been to get your business up and running, while being a stay-at-home mom, managing a household, etc…
I was very lucky. I started my business during the spring of 2003 while I was still working as a teacher. I was able to contract with a few schools that would let me try out my program starting in June of 2003. I began Lil Scholars the week after I left my teaching job. My own son was only four at the time so it gave me time to build the business while he was still home with me. I had the best of both worlds: time with my son and the ability to start and build a business. Each year I added more and more schools until my son went to first grade and by then I was ready to fill each week day.
What do you do to recharge?
Working with young children is very stress free and fun so I do not need much recharging. But to settle down and take time for myself, I run with my newest family member, Zeus. He is a Siberian husky that MUST be kept busy.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is watching the children that start with me as toddlers grow and go on to elementary school. Not many years ago the idea of children learning a second language was unheard of in Lake County unless their parents taught them. Now we offer at home materials, online materials, a monthly bingo game, coloring sheets, a song CD. We have something for everyone. It has been so much fun growing and answering parents’ questions.
What is the most important thing you want our readers to know?
I want the readers to know that any exposure is good exposure. Learning a second language is NOT only about learning the language, it is about the cognitive benefits to the brain offered by learning a second language. It really doesn’t matter what the second language is…any second language is great. We focus on Spanish because we can offer the cognitive benefits and also have the added benefit that Spanish is widely used in this area so children hear what they are learning in the real world.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Everything. We are impacting the lives of children. My favorite story is about a four year old who one day said to me, “Miss Paula, I love singing our songs. Why don’t you put them on a CD so we can sing them at home?” Out of the mouths of babes! We then wrote and produced our Song CD that is one of our most popular products to date. How can you not love a job where you work with young children who make you laugh and smile all day? Just read our cute stories on Facebook and you will see why we love what we do.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of our job is keeping parents informed. We rarely see many of our parents since we work mostly at childcare centers while the children are there. Some parents want very frequent updates on their children, others tell us we send too many emails. We try to find a happy medium by telling parents to access most of our information on our Facebook page or our website but that we are ALWAYS available by phone, text, or email any time they have a question. We try to respond within hours. Just this week we had a parent ask why we don’t send home daily progress notes but shortly after that we received a compliment us on how quickly we answered her questions and made communication so easy and more personal than generic notes. It is a very difficult balancing act.
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business just over 10 years and we are still growing.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted a name that was cute for young children but said what we did. We started ten years ago as Lil Scholars. I was not sure the Spanish would be a successful business venture so I kept the name generic so we could do any type of educational services. After a few years in business we learned how valued language was so we changed the name to Lil Language Scholars and trademarked it.
Disclosure: Lil Language Scholars is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. All thoughts and opinions belong to the writer of the story. If you are interested in featuring your locally-owned business in our series please contact the sales team.