Countdown to Kindergarten
I can’t believe it but this week we are registering for Kindergarten. Our little one will turn 5 this coming April, and if we were still living in Mexico she would have started going to public school at the age of 3! Thankfully here in British Columbia we get to keep her at home a while longer.
Because she was born outside of Canada we will have to register her at the District Reception and Placement Centre – where they will automatically assess whether or not she will be considered an English Language Learner (ELL – previously referred to as ESL).
I’ve been thinking about this since I read an anonymous blog post on SpanglishBaby.com a few months ago. The author of this post, who’s child was born in the United States, chose to lie about their family’s home language in order to avoid the stigma of being an English Language Learner.
“There is the misperception that students who speak another language at home are not as proficient in English and would be unable to keep up with the brighter students.” Why I Had to Lie About My Child’s Bilingualism
Even if I were to write that our home language is English, our daughter will still be assessed because she was born in Mexico. We hope to minimize the pressure that is put on learning English in Kindergarten and also to engage her other interests which is why we are checking out the Vancouver School Board’s other programs. We feel that the decisions that we make in the next few months will have an effect on the rest of her education, which is why we have discussed it at great length.
I have already written about my daughter’s desire to learn French and Mandarin and we are very interested in home learning, below I’ve included a breakdown of the programs that we are considering when choosing a kindergarten program for our bilingual kid
Which program is best for our bilingual family?
First Choice: Garibaldi Home Learners Program
We have already been participating in a preschool home learning program (called HIPPY) for about a year and we have discovered that home learning could work for our family. We are interested in the Garibaldi Home Learners program because the children attend multi-age classes two days a week and spend the other three days learning at home or on field trips. This program would give us the flexibility to travel to Mexico and also to continue working on Spanish and French at home.
Second Choice: French Immersion
My daughter is singing “Alouette” to herself as I write this and is very excited about the possibility of attending school everyday in French. Our only concern is finding the time and energy to work on Spanish at home after 30 hours at school each week.
If the other two options fall through and it seems like she will be in an English environment five days per week then we will consider Montessori – emphasizing ” independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development” or fine arts – emphasizing “the arts to develop students’ skills in collaboration, problem solving, and communication”.
Another option: Mandarin Bilingual
There are two schools in Vancouver that offer Mandarin, one beginning in Kindergarten and the other in Grade 4. After reading this family’s perspective in Why We Chose a Chinese Over Spanish Immersion School we also discussed Mandarin bilingual as an option. At this time we have decided that sending our daughter to an extracurricular Mandarin class may be best if she is serious about learning Mandarin.
My number one goal is to assure that being bilingual doesn’t cause my daughter any issues in her first years of school. I hope that we can find a program that will inspire her to continue to enjoy learning throughout her schooling.
My next blog post will also deal with English Language Learners and public school, so stay tuned!