Rowan is currently enrolled in a great preschool that we all love. We have him registered to go over the summer and then again next year. It is a small local school that is separate from the district. The district school that he will attend for kindergarten also offers preschool classes. I chose to send Ro to the smaller school closer to me because I didn't want him at 3 years old in a big district school setting.
The district school is a little unique for the area in that they offer dual language classes. From kindergarten up they teach the same lesson in English and Spanish. We decided to try to get into this program starting in Kindergarten because we loved the idea of Rowan learning another language and decided that we (my husband and I) would also try to learn and speak more Spanish in our house. I was, and still am, a little hesitant about the program because he will be technically behind (learning half as much "curriculum" as the kids who learn in only one language), and I am not sure if he will thrive in this type of learning environment.
Starting next school year they will be offering the dual language class for 4 year old preschool. If he attends the dual language preschool he will be guaranteed a spot in the dual language kindergarten and beyond (they actually ask for a 6 year commitment to the dual language program).
I am freaking out because I was not ready to make the decision to put him in that program until next year. My husband is all for putting him in dual language, and it would be more money, but that is not one of our issues with it. My issues would be that the dual language (dl) will be 5 days a week and his current school will be 3 days a week. The dl will actually be primarily Spanish because they only attend 2 1/2 hours a day and the primarily English speaking kids need to hear the Spanish more than vice versus. Also I love his current school and teachers and would miss them terribly.
He has watched Rio from start to finish in Portuguese, so I don't think he will be frustrated with not understanding his teacher. He will be leaving his current preschool after next year anyway and will be attending the district school. I am torn mostly because I know his current teachers really care for him and I worry that he will get lost in the shuffle when he starts the district school. Also I am not 100% sure about the dual language thing yet. I have heard good arguments for it that despite being technically behind kids in the program test 40% better than their peers in all subjects by the 4th grade. But it almost kind of feels like a "Your Baby Can Read" thing and pushing him to be smarter than everyone else just to say he is.
Please help I am not feeling grown up enough to make this decision yet.
If dual language feels like a good option for your kid, and if you think he's ready for 5 days a week, etc, then try it out. If it doesn't work for him (some kids do great in dual language, and for some kids it's not a great fit), don't be afraid to pull him back into regular ed. Some folks in my kid's district treat it as the end all and be all of good, well-rounded, culturally competent education. It's not. It's just one option - you'll find what works best for him. It could be that or it could be something else.
(also, as a side note, if you suspect you might need educational or behavioral interventions for your kid, it's good to know that most dual language programs are not set up to incorporate special needs kids - it's worth checking out if that's important to you)
I hate that the decision is being pushed down to 4-year-olds. It's so hard to know what is best for your kid for the next 7 years when they are four! My kid gets very excited about learning different languages and I probably should be encouraging it more at home. So, I'm kind of jealous you have the option.
I will say that we love our preschool (and so does pretty much everyone there), but people definitely leave after the 3-year-old year. Various reasons that I'm hearing are convenience (shorter commute), to attend the same school as an older brother/sister, to get into the elementary school that they want, lessened volunteer commitment. So, I guess I just say that to say, you aren't alone in switching to somewhere else for 4-year-old or pre-K school. Lots of people do it.
Um, but I have no real answer...
yeah, I think it depends on whether you feel he's ready to handle school every single day...it sounds like the language itself is not the issue, but rather the schedule. Can you pull him out of the program without a penalty, if it turns out not to work for him?
In general, I want to provide Smudge with a good education. But I don't worry about it too much because I had a terrible education and still managed to get a doctorate. My parents made sure I had access to a ton of books from the library and tried hard to provide opportunities for us to go to the arts or museums (often free through the Girl Scouts). I think that had a greater impact on me.
Yeah, my concern isn't so much the 5 day thing because he will be going 3 days next year anyway and it is still only 2 1/2 hours a day. My concern is ripping him out of a loving environment that works and putting him in the official school system.
I think it would actually be better to start him in the dual language in Preschool vs. Kindergarten because if it is not for him it will be no big deal to put him back into single language as he won't be missing out on key subjects.
I am starting to lean towards doing it because I will feel less guilty about taking a spot in preschool since there is no waiting list than kindergarten where it might be a lottery system.
We are about an hour and a half from Chicago and Milwaukee, so museums are occasional outings for us. I will try to keep going to them a priority. Rowan is not academically advanced or a big fan of being read to or play reading at this point. His dad is a computer geek and loves all things electronic, so we are probably one of those families that gives their kid (s) too much screen time, but I try to balance it out.
It sounds like you're leaning toward the 5-day but uncertain about whether you and Rowan are ready for the transition.
Without knowing your child or the school itself, I really don't think my opinion is that weighty. I will say that it's not the end of the world to pick the "wrong" school for your child. If it's not a good fit, you'll realize that soon enough and you'll make a change. If the new school is fine but he misses his friends from the old one, you'll keep in touch with playdates. (It's a VERY good thing for a child to have friends outside of school.)
If you do decide to transition to the new school, you'll still be at the old school through June, right? That's a lot of time to help him make the transition. Take him to visit the new place, play on their playground, see if you can meet up with any of the other new classmates and their families before school starts.
And again, if you try it and it's clearly not working, it's NOT the end of the world to make a change. None of this has to be set in stone. Sometimes you just don't know until you're in a situation whether it's going to work or not. It's all a process.
I agree with McG, and will add that the #1 contributing factor to success in school is parent support. So wherever your child goes, he'll have that! And, of course, I agree with Kommish that the foreign language immersion programs in our neck of the woods can be a little on the kool-aid side and tend to promote their agenda at the expense of other subjects, special needs, and social/emotional support for the students. But it doesn't have to be that way. And even if it is, a majority of people seem to be perfectly happy with these schools anyway.
Good luck with whatever you decide. There's no such thing as a perfect school, but your child will be fine either way because he has you!
"Good luck with whatever you decide. There's no such thing as a perfect school, but your child will be fine either way because he has you!"
This is what I was trying to say. :)
Thanks all. I was mostly freaking out because I wasn't ready to think about it yet. I didn't think I would have the decision to make until he started Kindergarten. I am a paranoid planner who generally roles with the punches, but I sometimes have days or more of just panicking.
I was kind of looking to see if anyone outside of my district knew anything about the program and I talked to a woman today who decided not to put her child in the program. She seemed happy with her choice but has a good friend whose child is in the program who totally loves it, so she said either way was great.
Rowan's preschool used to be part of a gymnastics facility that he started attending when he was 17 months old and the teachers worked the office while he attended gymnastics, so they have known him for years and they all clearly love him. We actually signed him up for summer school at the preschool because I cherish my 2 hours of time twice a week that someone else is entertaining him, and he loves playing at school, even though he seems to forget that many mornings.
To my knowledge, Rowan has no special needs. I would say he is the definition of average kid except perhaps a bit clingy in the mornings. He is always happy to have gone to school when I pick him up though, so my hesitance is not because of his current school. If I didn't LOVE his current school I would have no problem going with the DL program.