I’m on a bit of an adrenaline high right now…just got the mail and Tyler got in to our district’s free public school Spanish/English Dual Language Immersion Program! We’ve been waiting for months (thinking about it for years, actually) and now we know. But I’m suddenly getting cold feet…it’s such a huge decision to make a schooling choice for a child.
I found out about this amazing program before I was even pregnant with Jake. The kids are taught primarily in Spanish in the elementary grades, working their way up and getting more English instruction each year. They graduate from 6th grade being totally bilingual and biliterate (not just your casual “I can talk to you in Spanish,” but “I can read and write and understand and speak Spanish like a native speaker.”) What a gift to give a child. There is a 7th-8th grade program at our assigned junior high school, too, and then a 9th-12th grade program at a high school further away. But for now I only have to worry about this seven year commitment in the elementary grades.
I love speaking other languages, and although I was quite fluent in Spanish several years ago when I was speaking it more often and teaching kids whose native language was Spanish, I have forgotten quite a lot. Not to mention my eight month stint in Germany, where I became proficient in that language, and my brain now thinks I should throw out any word in any foreign language and others should understand. I am amazed by those who speak five, six, seven languages. I have trouble compartmentalizing it all. But one other language (especially one so widely spoken in California) is so valuable, and not too difficult if you’re speaking it daily.
I knew that Jake’s “need-to-know-what’s-going-on and don’t-like-feeling-out-of-control” personality would not be a good fit for this program, so we didn’t pursue it for him. Tyler, on the other hand, is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. Sociable, talkative, friendly, easy-going. However, he’s also stubborn and even at his fabulous preschool he has days where he tries to refuse to go and says he hates school. (Then he comes home and has totally forgotten all about it and tells me what a great day he had.) I’m worried that it will be a hard transition for him. I’m worried that I won’t be able to hack it if he starts complaining and says he hates it. Then again, if he says he hates a wonderful program that he actually loves this year, maybe I’ll be able to have a little perspective when he says it next year. The fact that he says he doesn’t want to learn Spanish makes no difference to me. I’ve learned that kids never want to do something that seems strange and intimidating. But who knows? Don’t you wish you could predict the future?
The biggest problem…the program is at a different school from where Jake will be next year. Most of the time I’m pretty okay with that idea. Actually, no matter what, he’ll be going to a different school from Jake’s, but the other kindergarten choice is much closer and isn’t a seven year commitment. Yikes. Feeling so uncertain right now. And if we get a new foster child in the fall, I could be driving to three different schools when you count preschool. Yikes again.
On the other hand, I think about any kids we might adopt in the future. Once you have one kid in the school, their siblings are automatically accepted. There are so many obstacles that kids have when they’re coming out of the foster system…wouldn’t it be great to be able to give them the big advantage of bilingualism?
Okay, I’m just typing out loud here and I know my thoughts are all over the place. Such is life. Every decision we make seems to be life-altering. I know that I could pull Tyler from the program at any time if I want to, although they do request you stay. I know that being bilingual would be a great gift for Tyler. He could make twice as many friends in the world! He could have an advantage over English only job applicants! He could be used mightily by God!
I have been thinking about this program for years and have been excited about it for months, yet the time comes to pull the trigger and I’m nervous. Now I have no more time to obsess about such things. I hear Midge waking up from her nap and there’s dinner to cook.