Thursday, November 7, 2013

↑  Headed to school. (This girl does not like backpacks!)

Before she was born, Gui and I talked about sending Avienne to preschool when she was the right age.  We were certain we would send her to a French immersion school so she would be exposed to French as much as possible while we're living in the US, but the school we want send her to accepts students age 2 and older.  In fact, all of the schools we looked into start accepting children at age 2, but we were hoping to get Avienne started sooner than that.  She seems to be happiest when she's around other kids (what kid isn't?) and there's no denying the benefits of children learning to socialize with peers early in life.  I was starting to see Avienne becoming bored with our routines, and I honestly, started feeling a little inadequate in terms of teaching her new things and keeping her interest.  

So, I started searching around for alternatives to French immersion, and stumbled upon a Chinese immersion school that allows children to start at 18 months.  Avienne just turned 16 months, but the director met with us and after a trial class, she offered to enroll her right away instead of waiting a couple months.  Kids can go for as few as 2 hours a week, but we want to expose Avienne to the language as much as possible without burning her out, so we opted to start by enrolling her for 4 hours a week.  

I know it seems a little out of the ordinary to send Avienne to a Chinese immersion school when neither Gui nor I speak Chinese, but we see only positives to exposing her to a third language.  She just finished up her second week at the preschool (8 hours total immersion), and we already see that she can understand much of what her teacher says and can respond to "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you" in Chinese. 

But, as is with many first-time preschoolers, the hardest part is leaving her for those two hours.  Apart from when she's sleeping, Avienne has never been more than a couple of hours away from me (or Gui), and she's never been left with anyone but family when she has been away from us.  So, dropping her off at school has been a huge transition for both of us.  We have already seen some improvement, but I think it will be a pretty slow process. She loves being at the school and cheerfully marches through the doors and down the hallway, but she cries the moment we step into the classroom.  The last two days have been the hardest for me (and probably for her, too), but I know she is well taken care of.  She is the youngest in her class, but there are never more than 4 students, so she takes up quite a bit of attention right now.  I've tried to keep up a routine when leaving, but I really have no idea if it helps at all.

Avienne is waitlisted for a full-time French preschool when she turns 2, but our plan is to keep up with Chinese on a part-time basis so her exposure to it now will not be wasted. I think once she is able to go without missing me, we'll start to see more evidence of language comprehension. It astonishes me to see older students at the school speaking and responding to Chinese with ease - even babes as young as two!

Does your child go to preschool? I would love to hear any tips or advice on how to make preschool transitioning any easier.

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