Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Relief and immersion.

We are feeling very relieved this fine evening. JJ was approved to take four days off the last week this month. He is off from March 28 to April 1. He is going to drive here, drop his car at the airport, then fly back to head home. I told SS the good news,, and she grabbed a (non operable) phone to have a chat with her brother. So cute, "JJ I'm happy you are coming to our house. It's pretty, we have a yard. Now we can play in our yard and share a bedroom." Crud, must start preparing SS, make it clear that JJ is not moving in with us yet.

Shortly after we arrived home (think it was only two weeks) with SS P found out about the Mandarin immersion program in our city. He immediately decided that SS would enter the program, and P would get his wish, a child who speaks English, Spanish and Mandarin. We attended an orientation at the School of the Arts last month. The program is very popular, enrollment is determine by a lottery. So when I completed SS's application last November, it was for naught. They have only 50 spaces for kindergarten. They accept children into the program only until the first semester of first grade. By that time the children have acquired approximately 80 words and characters, and it is difficult for a child to catch up past that point.

Given that they had over 200 applications, I was not too hopeful for SS. What really sucked even more is when the principal discussed how to gauge if a child would succeed in a program that is heavy on the performance arts. She was describing SS to a t. We were very concerned about SS attending any other school here. After two plus years being the only Asian kid in the school, we were hopeful for more diversity. There are quite a few Korean and Chinese children in the immersion program. We are feeling much better about SS attending school now, because our new home is definitely diverse. On our drive home from So CA I told P that it felt amazing not to be as conspicuous, I am really looking forward to absolute anonymity. At that moment P realized that while there were smiles, waves, and "she's cute" remarks, we did not have one person go bonkers over SS and her looks. Oh yeah, totally looking forward to our new home.

The closest Mandarin program to us is a forty-five minute drive. SS is going to undergo a lot of changes, the last thing she needs is a ninety minute daily commute. Our future school district has a Spanish immersion program. I was surprised how quickly P got over his disappointment, and jumped on the Spanish immersion bandwagon. The important thing to P is that Sula not grow up monolingual. If you guessed that is another P issue, congrats because it is. The man has another boulder on his shoulder. He is ashamed of being monolingual. I frequently remind him that it's not that big of a deal, and that I had no choice in the matter. We are sure that we will be able to find a weekend Mandarin class. Hiring a tutor is another option.

I called the school and made an appointment for SS to be assessed for kinder readiness. The appointment is April 3 at 10:00 a.m. We are crossing our fingers that SS has a smooth move and transition. The assessment is basic, letter/color/number recognition, counting to 20, and writing her name. It should not take longer than twenty minutes. The director stated that they get many applicants without preschool experience, and they like to make sure the child has the basics.

An interesting thing about the program is the Spanish to English ratio. The Mandarin program here (and other immersion programs I know about) is 50-50. Children begin their day with Mandarin, then in the afternoon they learn in English. The Spanish program starts at 80% in kindergarten, they reduce by 10% every year, until the children are taught 50-50. That does not happen until fifth grade. If the Mandarin program was like that, I would have had serious reservations. The Spanish program requires that the students work with a Spanish speaking tutor beginning in second grade. Luckily SS is going to have a tutor from day one. I hope it helps even things out, there are those 16 months when she only heard Chinese.

I asked SS if she knew what day tomorrow was. She self assuredly answered "My birthday is tomorrow." We congratulated her for remembering, and SS answered "I know it is, because it is on the calendar at my preschool". So stinking cute. The pictures below were in my cell phone, and I have no idea when they were taken, but sure that they are from this year.

SS diligently working on her first broken bone(s).

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