Mandarin Immersion Update: The Stress Addition

Samantha is about half way through the school year, so I thought I should do an update.

At her first parent teacher conference, both her English and Chinese teacher said she was doing very well.  She was doing solid kindergarten work in the English portion and her Mandarin teacher was very pleased with her progress.  She knew the vocabulary and could answer questions in Chinese without prompting.

At home, we’ve just been astounded.  She’s reading and writing in both English and Mandarin.  For the Mandarin portion they have an online program to use at home.  She can pick out correct sentence structure. Her vocabulary grows every day. I think she can read better in Chinese than English.

But, here’s the thing. Sammy doesn’t know it.  She’s in a class where some of the kids are already bilingual and it’s starting to become apparent.  She doesn’t understand her classmates came in knowing Chinese. She just knows they seem to understand everything, and she doesn’t.  And it’s stressing her out.  She’s been complaining of stomach aches in the morning when she starts with Chinese.  I hear of her laying down in the class with a stomach ache.  I even had to pick her up once from school for the stomach aches.  She’s stressed because she doesn’t know how much she knows or that’s she’s not expected to know everything.

We talked to her about it. Told her she’s doing well, that her teachers say she’s doing very well, that she’s not expected to know everything, she’s there to learn.  But still the stomachaches.

Very luckily, our neighbors are from China and the wife teaches at one of those Saturday Chinese schools, and they agreed to help her with her homework.  We went last Saturday and they were very impressed she knew so much already and how well she pronounced her Chinese.  They mooned over her, and she ate it up.

I left her for an hour and they played games with her and their older daughter (11), who Sammy adores.  When I picked her up, they had been playing pictionary in Chinese. The husband said to me, “My daughter drew a banana and she said banana!” I nodded. “In Chinese!” I nodded.  She already knew banana. They also practiced saying “I/he/she/they want” using strawberries. Sammy ate 17 strawberries (with sugar)  by asking for them in Chinese. Needless to say, she wants to go back.

I’m hoping that they will help her realize how well she’s doing and boost her confidence.

She loves her classmates and all the special activities they have.  They just had their Chinese New Year celebration, they did a lion dance, a professional lion dance team, they tasted traditional New Year’s foods.

I want her to learn Chinese, but I don’t want her to be stressed in kindergarten. Really, I don’t want her to be stressed in school period.  As long as she’s working hard and doing her best, that’s all I ask.  All this self-imposed perfectionism is not good in my opinion.

Any suggestions to help her be less hard on herself.  It’s kindergarten, for Pete’s sake.

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6 Responses to “Mandarin Immersion Update: The Stress Addition”

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  1. Kristin
    Twitter: kristinglas

    Here’s my 2 cents- that stress about school will be there regardless of a bilingual program. That said, if she really hated it then that’s a different situation.
    Kristin´s last post ..Grown Up Window Treatments.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      I don’t mind some stress, but the stomachaches and not wanting to go when she was enjoying it before bothered me. She seems to be enjoying it again knowing our neighbor is around to help.

  2. The Drama Mama
    Twitter: poopscoopinmama

    I don’t think there is a whole lot more you can do. Hopefully this new friendship will help destress her. You’re doing a great job and so is she!! Thanks for the update!
    The Drama Mama´s last post ..BSOW: My Crafty Little Valentine

  3. Anna says:

    My closed friends at our Sunday class told me that when they were kids that’s how they learned Mandarin and they hated it. Between their comments and my gut instincts, I just decided that Mandarin class wasn’t worth it.
    Anna´s last post ..Better Job, More Jobs


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