A few weeks ago we transferred Sam into the Chinese Immersion Program here in Provo. Sam, who is in 1st grade, was bored in school and was performing way above grade level in all areas. We tried to think of ways to accelerate Sam in school but felt he was too limited in his current situation.
We thought about the language immersion programs. Students in any of the language immersion programs have to start in 1st grade. We knew that Sam would be behind in learning the language but wondered if he would be able to catch up. When we asked Sam about the idea he was excited and said he wanted to learn Chinese. My reaction: “Really? Chinese?” But that was what he wanted. He had no interest in Spanish. So the next day I went down to the school where they offer Chinese Immersion and simply asked if Sam could start the program late. We were surprised when the principal agreed Sam would be up for the challenge. He started just a few days later and suddenly our whole family was learning Chinese!
We were expecting some hard days while Sam was catching up but so far he has done very well and seems so much happier at school and home. He is excited to be learning and is picking up the language fast. Sam does have tutoring twice a week with a wonderful Chinese tutor and besides simply having more homework he studies with an online Chinese learning program daily. School has become much more intense for Sam but it has been worth it. We have been amazed at this opportunity he has.
Sam has great stories too. One day I was asking him about getting his math page corrected by the teacher.
Sam: No, because as soon as I got up to her desk she stood up and said it was time to go on the field trip!
Me: Really? Could you understand what she was saying? How did you know you were going on the field trip?
Sam: I didn’t! I just thought we were going to the bathroom or something. Then next thing I knew we were getting on the school bus. That’s when I learned to always take my coat when we go somewhere.
Another time he came home and said, “Mom, I’m so happy I learned my numbers and we worked on them this morning!”
Sam: Because we have P.E. in Chinese and the teacher told me to say a number. It turned out that was how many push ups we had to do!
Not only has the Chinese Immersion Program been a neat opportunity, but we have also been very impressed with the quality of the school itself. The school has a full-time music and art teacher and Sam loves going to these classes every week. These were not offered at all in his previous school. Sam also has more access to programs, books and materials. The problem has been when he comes home and tells his older sister about how much he likes his school and what he did in music and art that day. She has been jealous and upset that Sam has these opportunities and is getting more attention recently. It just doesn’t seem fair that one public school has so much to offer and others don’t.
It is too late for Abby to start the immersion program- she is already in 3rd grade. We also didn’t think we could get her into the regular classes at the same school. This is a high ranked and sought-after school. Deseret News ranked the school #4 in Utah. I was also told in the District Office that the school was full and they would not allow anyone out of boundaries to attend.
I found out Kaitlyn could go to kindergarten there because they will take younger siblings who may start Chinese immersion in 1st grade. We are planning for her to attend Chinese Immersion too now. This week I went over to the school to confirm that I could enroll Kaitlyn. I had the strongest feeling that I should simply ask if it was possible for Abby to attend next year too. I wasn’t sure if Abby would want to go and leave her friends at the old school, but I kept thinking I should ask. To my surprise the principal gave special permission to let Abby attend next year too! It probably didn’t hurt when I mentioned Abby was also a straight A student.
I still wondered if Abby would want to go there next year. When she got home from school I told her the news and asked what she wanted to do. She was jumping up and down with excitement and said, “Mom, I’ve been praying I could go there too. I just felt that was where I should be.” I had no idea she had been praying for this but I absolutely believe her getting in was an answer to her prayer. She won’t be learning Chinese there but she is still learning some at home, especially because we have these all over the house.
Now that all of our children will be attending the same school, and that BYU and Mike’s office are literally a block away, we have decided to focus our househunting to that area too. It means we will be looking at older and more expensive homes instead of the nice new ones on the other side of town, but I guess the schools and location are worth it….maybe.