My daughter is just about to enter 5th grade as a Dual Language student. It has truly been a learning experience for our entire family these last 5 years. We have been so blessed to have the opportunity to be part of this program at our local school district. As I look back on this year, I thought I would share a few things I learned on this adventure.
Homework is getting tough!
I am a fluent Spanish speaker, having learned it as my first language. Since enrolling in elementary school, English has become my dominant language though I still have the same level of Spanish fluency. Even still, my fourth grade daughter's vocabulary words taught me quite a bit this year! So many words that, while at level for 4th grade learning, are not common for every day even in English, so they tripped me up plenty in Spanish.
It made me realize that -- just like we will struggle with middle school and high school math and science -- we will have a tough road ahead with her advanced Spanish skills. Google Translate won't be able to help us much longer! It's nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time. Nonetheless, I like the idea that she will be empowered by this knowledge she has over us. I believe it will give her confidence in her language and leadership skills.
I underestimated her Spanish
I must admit that I often underestimate how much my daughter knows! As my first born, I am learning every day what it is like to have a child of her age. Every day she learns at a pace I cannot comprehend! And Spanish is no different.
Having watched her in 1st grade, fumbling with conjugation, my mind has tricked me many times into thinking she's still that girl. But this year she really astonished me with her grasp of the language and specifically her writing and reading skills.
I suppose this is the law of parenting -- they grow up right before your eyes means you don't realize how quickly it's happening.
We need a community to make this work
As we got into 3rd and 4th grade and her Spanish schoolwork increased in difficulty, I truly learned the power of our school community. I'm so thankful for our 4th grade, private Facebook group that brings parents together to allow discussion and support. Many times parents turned to this group to ask questions about homework, school policies, funny stories, and more. It really allowed us to feel that we were not alone in this process and gave us a resource to tap into when we needed it. It has resulted in several good friendships with moms of her classmates and I'm so thankful for that.
As I look ahead to the last year before middle-school and even to middle school itself, I realize just how nervous I am about what lies ahead. Part of it is normal -- a big milestone for my first born, with all the craziness we hear about kids that age. But part of it is about her Dual Language experience to come. Our district has committed Dual Language thur 5th grade, but in middle school, they are only offering pre-AP classes. I am still hopeful this will change with my daughter's class (they are the largest Dual Language class entering middle school yet -- more than 5x's previous classes), but it is all uncertain. Even beyond middle school, there is no certainty of Dual Language programs and right now the chances look very slim.
I suppose in the end I am nervous about the rest of us letting her down after the amount of hard work and effort she has put in to date. Of course it will be incumbent on our family to find ways to continue supporting the language, but its no substitute for immersion learning. We will just have to do our best.
I'm so proud
As she closed out the year and we looked back at all she's accomplished, I truly did feel a lot of pride. I was reminded just how much we are all personally invested in this journey. It is a wild experience to be a part of and I'm so thankful that both my girls get to participate in such a powerful program. I am proud that we survived the toughest of times and, while we still have tough times ahead, it certainly seems doable now that she's well on her way to being mature young lady. I'm looking forward to where we go from here.
Fifth grade, here we come!!