Saturday, May 31, 2014

Adding a Third Language at 5?

As I walked in the door this evening, I saw it on the floor. There was no mistaking it, with the return address from PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Enrollment and Transfer Center. We'd been waiting for weeks to hear if we'd make the lottery for the Dual Spanish Immersion Program at our neighborhood school, and alas, we found out:

We made the cut (!!!??!?!?!?!$&!!@%$^$%^!).

For me, just hours from the news, my heart swims with emotions--excitement, fear, relief, curiosity, eagerness--and my mind swirls with thoughts. Can we trust an immersion program in it's first year at a school? What will adding a third language do to her non-community language (German)? What happens if we end up getting into our 'dream school' part way through the year--and then we don't like it?

When Geoff and I were on the fence about whether we wanted any more children, we agreed that we didn't want to make the decision based on fear (I'm afraid she'll feel alone in the world if she doesn't have any siblings...). Instead, we wanted to make a decision based on inspiration, based on the song of our heart beneath the fear.  Naturally, we want to do the same with this decision, too--a good reminder for me right now, as my mind spins and my stomach tries to talk me into a chocolate smoothie. There's nothing like chocolate ice cream to make everything feel easier in the moment.

So, then, what would my heart say if it could talk?
What would I hear if I listened?

I would love for Kaya to learn Spanish. As I told her tonight, it was the first language that I learned in school, the one I learned before German. The idea of my daughter knowing the same languages that I do leaves me with a cozy feeling.

And my brain is saying the following, too. Naturally, Spanish is a much more useful language to know than German, so there's that. But even if she's only in this Dual Immersion program for a year or less, a program which is conducted 90% in Spanish and 10% in English, I can imagine that the learning opportunity would only be beneficial. Right?

A month ago, we thought we had this school thing all figured out. After having discovered that we were 63rd on the wait list at the school that had me in tears of joy on curriculum night, we decided that we'd enroll Kaya for next year at her current school--a continuing Kindergarten class at her outdoor immersion forest farm preschool (Waldorf inspired). I met with her teacher, talked to the director, and felt great about the decision. And then, Kaya told me one night that she didn't want to go to school there next year. She was ready to be inside more, done with being so muddy and wet, and eager to learn to write--a much cuter, longer tale than I'm sharing now, but curt to stick to the point. She was also tired of being in the car so much, about 25 minutes each direction. And so, wanting to honor our daughter's wishes, we gave it some good thought, and decided to consider other options, optimally closer to home.  

And so here we sit...with three enticing neighborhood options in our laps:
1. Traditional kindergarten option at our local public school, which is rumored to be a good program now (after years of being one of the worst in the city) [$ free]
2. Dual Spanish immersion in that same school: 1 classroom, 1st year, non-existent reputation at this school but solid at others [$ free]
3. Local Waldorf kindergarten with about 6 children, with my friend, in her home [$ the same amount we'd put away for her college if we chose a free option]

Something tells me that you understand my quandary.
I bet you even understand why I'm craving chocolate...

Clearly, I don't have an answer. But what I do know is that I'd love your input. While I've finally learned that I need to get quiet and seek within for my answer, I also feel strongly that data would feel good right now. Are there legitimate fears I can put to rest? Are there valid considerations to weigh on?

As always, I love being on this journey with you--while I haven't had much time to branch out into the blogging world lately, I love that you come here, as it really makes a difference to feel so in community. This video of my new-found source of inspiration makes me think of us--singing our song together, from all over the world, each in our own beautiful place--and simultaneously reminds me to search within, and listen.


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