Friday, February 06, 2009

The language of choosing a school

For the past several months Pete and I have been discerning where to send Mickey for kindergarten next year.

We live within one minute of the public school Mickey would attend. Nearly walking distance...if there were no streets involved. Pete went to public schools his whole life and he turned out fine (mostly).

Then there's the option of sending him (and ultimately Alex) to a private school. There are three or four very reputable Catholic schools within ten minutes of our house...any of which would provide a solid elementary education with the bonus of Catholic education. I went to a Catholic elementary school and I turned out just fine (mostly). Part of me feels like my kids deserve a Catholic education: after all, I've been Catholic all my life and we're very active in our current church. I even got them an extra parishioner when Pete converted! But alas, no one at the Vatican keeps we'd still have to pay what amounts to an SUV payment each month. For one child.

And there's a third option: a public school with a language immersion program. True to the name, students are completely immersed in a learning language (you choose either Spanish or French) from Day One. All their core subjects are taught in the learning language. They learn to speak it and write it and understand it.

The kicker?

They don't focus on learning grammar, the ENGLISH kind, until mid-second grade.

The other kicker?

Pete and I don't speak Spanish. Or French. So helping with homework would be, shall we say, IMPOSSIBLE.

Still another kicker?

The school would like us to commit to sending our child there for six years, in order for him to get the entire benefit of the program.

That's a lot of kickers.

And it's the choice we're making for Mickey.

Okay, well, I should say it's the choice we're attempting to make. There's an application process...they open the school up to kindergartners from all over the district. I heard about 300 kids apply for roughly 160 spots.

Despite these seemingly unorthodox practices, Pete and I are convinced this type of school is worth the effort. We've spoken to several families and former students, and even teachers of former students, and their experiences seem to be nothing but positive. Some of the kids have gone on to learn third languages; at the very least they excel when they get to middle school and high school.

We've completed our application and we'll find out in March or April if Mickey is accepted. It's hard to imagine him coming home able to speak a different language than us...but I know if he goes through this program he'll be developing learning skills he'll use throughout his education.

So now the waiting begins, and if he isn't accepted we'll send him to the public school down the street. And I'm sure he'll turn out fine.



~ Straight Shooter ~ said...

We applied for Boy Child. They told us the same it turned out it was more like 3,000 applicants.
Since Boy Child could only say he was only pure white bread, his chances were pretty much NIL...
I so hope Mickey gets in! It is without a doubt the coolest thing!!!
Good Luck and Lots of Prayers!

Christine said... So maybe I was off just a tad. Hello pubic school down the street...

Anonymous said...

He has already turned out fine, Christine! I hope he gets in, let us know!