Monday, September 26, 2011

Mandarin on my mind - week 3

So we are now into week three of Mandarin immersion kindergarden. We are settling into to new routines, and into fall. Some of my own fears and anxiety are gone and so, I think, are some of our daughters. Mainly, I'm happy to report there is mostly just wonder and awe.

I have to admit, I of course expected the worst (complaints about not understanding or not wanting to go to school), but was caught totally off guard by the actual challenges we faced. There has been very little if any complaints about language barriers (some confusion over pronouncing her Chinese teachers name our only real heart ache). She is excited to learn and loves reciting new words and songs to anyone who will listen. She does homework happily and loves her teachers....she is mainly her happy easy going self.

We had some struggles with being tired, focusing on eating lunch, and general clingy-ness but even that has been minimal thanks to lots of early tips I think. So, what surprised me? Well, she lost her first tooth in week 2 of school (did not see that coming), she has blisters all over her hands from being convinced that her purpose at school is to be able to completely cross every monkey bar several times (oh and learn to do a cart wheel), and she is struggling a bit socially to find new friends and fit in (not totally surprising but hard for me to watch and just listen knowing she would have to find her own way on this one issue).

Not that I thought she wouldn't be a normal child, but the expectation that she would somehow struggle with language on top of this is what is really throwing me of. She still might, but for now the excitement is going strong for all of us. She is amazingly brave and strong.... I'm excited to see her show interest in cultural aspects as well. I watched her in Wushu (kung Fu) class and heard her glowing about Chinese dance class today...all great added exposure to language as well. Oh yes, and hearing how she is learning to read and write "I am 5" (yes in English) was exciting too.

I'm also surprised at how much we have left all of our own worries about her learning in two languages behind (even embracing and supporting it more passionately than we originally did). I have no doubt now that this is a terrific program that I suspect will will love being a part of over the years. I'm also sort of surprised to see that I want and need to learn more about the language myself in these early weeks... So here we go together. So far, so good.

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