Samantha finished her first full week of kindergarten on Friday. That gives her a grand total of 8 days in the Mandarin immersion program.
I thought I would like the program, but I am beyond thrilled with how it’s going so far.
First, there’s the whole starting kindergarten aspect. Samantha is a shy child. We had lots of tears in preschool every year. We have had none so far this year. She even lets me leave her in the line in the morning and walks with the teacher to the classroom. I don’t have to follow her to the door.
Then there’s the Mandarin aspect. I have to admit, as the first day got closer and closer, I became more and more nervous. I doubted the decision to put her into an immersion program. I worried she would be overwhelmed not being able to understand her teacher.
My worries have subsided. The teacher does a great job with communicating non-verbally to let the kids know what she wants them to do. There is one girl in Sammy’s class who speaks Chinese and is allowed to translate some of the more complex ideas for now.
Even better, Samantha is starting to learn some words and phrases. By the end of day three, she was saying something that I thought sounded like more than jibberish. I asked her what it meant and she didn’t know. I had the opportunity to ask one of the Chinese speaking parents what it meant. Turns out she was saying teacher Chen. She learned how to address her teacher in three days.
By last Friday, she now knows a few body parts, how to count to nine (she forgets the word for 10 most of the time), and how to greet her teacher in the morning. She also knows all of her classmates Chinese and English names.
The first day, the were given a Chinese name. At this point, it’s their English name as it would be said by a Chinese speaker so the kids recognize their names. Samantha is Sa-ma-ta, Vivian is Wei Wei Ann, and Ryan is Lion. In the future, they’ll be given a real Chinese name.
I never expected her to pick it up so quickly and be able to say a few words this early in the program. I am so glad we put her in this program. The teachers are so excited to be part of it, the principal is fantastic and very supportive of the program. I have no doubt that we made a good decision. So, although I’m driving constantly now, at least I’m not worrying that she’s going to be okay academically.