Monday, September 26, 2011
Already, four weeks of full-time school life have flown by in a blur. A completely new routine, for all of us - out the door by 7.30, every morning (somehow it seemed easier when I was working), into the car, drive, find a parking spot, walk a block or so to the school, reign in Miss Pie, wait on the school's front lawn for the Kindergarten teachers to appear, hurried kisses goodbye, watch the class line disappear into the building, kids waving goodbye one last time, walk back to car... then do it all over again in the afternoon, but in reverse - with homework thrown into the mix.
Only four weeks, but it feels like we've been doing this forever. I haven't decided if that's good or bad.
What I do know is that I'm grateful for how well the Faery has adjusted to it. She's not in an ordinary Kindergarten programme - she's in a dual language immersion programme, which means half her day is in one classroom, with all of those lessons in English, and the other half is in the classroom next door... with her lessons 100% in Korean.
Roughly a third of her classmates are from Korean families who speak little or no English at home, another third are from families with some kind of Korean ancestry and speak little or no Korean at home (maybe one parent is Korean, or they might be third generation Korean American), and the other third have no physical or cultural ties to Korea.
The Faery falls into that last category, and I've already copped some horrific judgements from other people for enrolling her in such a programme. I don't care, but I wish they'd mind their own business all the same. It's not like the Faery is their child. A lot of soul searching went into this decision, and it wasn't made on a whim - "Hey, let's screw with our child's education for fun!"
Firstly, with my background in teaching English - both as a second language, and as a foreign language, which require different approaches - I strongly believe it's great to learn another language at an early age. The benefits are enormous, in many ways, regardless of the language. The younger, the better, too.
There's a mountain of evidence, from countless studies, to support this. I'm sorry, but the negative nancies (including some family members) are simply being ignorant. Too bad for them.
It's true that children in bilingual programmes are a little behind - academically - for the first couple of years while their brains assimilate everything in two languages, but then they fly ahead of the rest.
Another reason why we decided to go ahead with this is that the Faery is not your average child. She is super bright, and was speaking exceptionally well from a very early age. She mastered the Roman alphabet - reading, writing, sound recognition - long ago, and thrives when being challenged, so this option for her education seemed like an excellent fit.
I'd be lying, though, if I said I wasn't worried about how she'd handle the initial stress of being in a classroom and not understanding a word, but she's taken it in her stride so far. At the end of only her second day, we stopped for a treat on the way home, and she wrote her name in Korean on a paper bag for me:
Two days ago, she came bounding into our bedroom not long after 7am, and asked "What day is it?"
"Saturday," and I kept my eyes firmly shut as she lay down next to me.
I heard little sniffles, soon followed by muffled sobs, "But I really want to go to school today..." and then a howl.
Later that day, she sat herself at the table with her crayons and paper, and busily set about creating her own worksheets - just like the ones she does at school in her English class. The alphabet was witten out twice, once in upper case, once in lower case. For both of them, she'd circled the letter h. Underneath, the same letter was written repeatedly in both upper case and lower case. Several other puzzles were drawn underneath, where the solution involved the letter h. All of this was her own undertaking, and the worksheet copied purely from memory.
Did someone say nerd? I'd better enjoy this love of school while it lasts.
Seriously, though, I am deeply impressed, amazed, blown away - all of those cliché superlatives - by this child of mine.
I could not be prouder.