B abyFe LLC is a Spanish immersion bilingual learning center in Bowie, Maryland. The facility’s four classrooms — Infants, Cruisers, Juniors and Pre-K — are composed of children 6 weeks to 5 years old, and the classrooms are either semi- or fully immersed in Spanish.

BabyFe LLC Melford Town Center 4861 Tesla Drive, Suite A Bowie, MD 20715 301.246.0012

The three younger classes are taught entirely in Spanish, while the Pre-K classroom encourages kindergarten readiness by weaving English back into the curriculum. “We know that most of our kids will end up in an English elementary school and we want to introduce them to English literacy,” Michele Coggins, owner and chief marketing officer, said. “The goal is that the children at BabyFe leave with as much fluency in Spanish as they do in English.” Coggins had the idea for BabyFe when searching for bilingual child care for her own two daughters. She couldn’t find anything in Prince George’s County, but she wanted her daughters to be bilingual. Coggins, a teacher herself, signed a lease at St. John Properties’ Melford Town Center in January 2021. On November 15 of the same year, BabyFe opened to the public. No longer a blueprint, BabyFe’s 5,040 square feet is separated into four classrooms, an office, a lobby, a break room, and a kitchenette to warm and serve the locally catered meals provided for the children. The learning center also features a state-of- the-art outdoor playground.

due to reading nonverbal cues like tone, body language, and even anchor charts with pictorial support, Coggins explained. Parents have the opportunity to witness their child’s language development firsthand. Every few months, BabyFe hosts parent-teacher conferences where they’re able to track their child’s growth in motor, personal, social and problem-solving skills as well as other areas of development. BabyFe also fosters a cohesive learning environment based on the center’s monthly theme, during which each class learns a new nursery rhyme. In January, the theme was All About Me, Coggins said, and children learned about the body and family through the song: “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” In February, themes of Love and Friendship filled the halls and classes learned the song “I Love You.” In March, Things That Go featured “Wheels on the Bus.” “Every classroom is singing that song throughout the month and it unifies us as a center. We’ll learn the vocabulary and do activities around it, so it becomes a centerpiece for the learning that takes place,” Coggins said. “It’s a way to bring

us together. It’s also a way for siblings to share in each other’s learning.” With four lead teachers, five assistants, and supporting staff, the majority of BabyFe speaks fluent or proficient Spanish. To ease any uncertainties that staff had about speaking Spanish to a room filled with English-speaking infants and toddlers, Coggins played a video of a French primary lesson and asked what they could understand at the end. “There was a good amount of it picked up because of words that were cognates (words in two or more languages that share a similar meaning, spelling and pronunciation), there were gestures and pictures used, and even though [the teacher] never broke from French, we were able to pick up what she was talking about,” Coggins said. “The more you do that and continue that routine every day, eventually, just like with an infant, they’ll start using one word and start putting a couple words together.” Coggins said she’s looking forward to working with St. John Properties and cites their expansive and effective team for a seamless working relationship. “You’re not dealing with a mom-and-pop shop, they’re a big company, and somebody is going to be able to help you.”

Studies have shown that bilingual children have strong comprehension



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