Monday, September 1, 2008

1st School Challenge - Probably Not Last

Well today was the day we knew was coming.

Oldest Son expressed strong sentiment about his 3rd grade Spanish class. Not positive. His complaint was he did not understand his teacher and his teacher did not understand him. Both fairly accurate statements. Oldest Son is still learning Spanish and his Spanish teacher does not speak English.

We started probing. Good news is all other areas of school are going fine.

So what prompted this today? The Spanish class was asked to write a story. For the first time in his entire life (all 8 1/2 years), he did not complete an assignment nor did he even discuss with his teacher. Oldest Son is a good student and a very compliant, "follow the rules" person so this was hard for him.

Husband and I went into parenting high gear. The three of us "brainstormed" by writing our ideas on post-its.

We did have to eliminate Oldest Son's ideas to go to the American School and for his teacher to learn more English :)

One idea all three of us shared was to get some extra Spanish tutoring after school. Husband will follow up on tutoring resources at the school and their ideas to make sure we are doing all we can.

We provided him with a small dictionary that can translate English to Spanish (his school dictionary only translates Spanish to English.)

Husband will help write out some key phrases for him to communicate with his teacher in these situations.

We did the assignment together to help him organize an approach to writing stories. Today's story is only two sentences. It is not elaborate or long. We want Oldest Son to know that we expect him to always try, do the best he can and it is okay if there are mistakes. Husband will go with Oldest Son in the morning to see if teacher will accept the story late.

All three of us shared a few tears and a big group hug. My head knows this will make him a stronger person but my heart hurts for him. I was so proud of him. It was difficult for him to express himself to us and stay calm throughout our discussion.

Oldest Son is now happily playing checkers with Youngest Son ...


Theresa in Mèrida said...

I think that tutoring will perform miracles in your son's spanish ability.
Our friend's little girl has been here a year, she has a best friend who is Yucatecan, attends a Yucatecan school and takes Spanish lessons too. If you listen to her, you would think that she is Yucatecan. In fact one of the things her tutor struggles against is correcting her to a better accent.
Kids are sponges and with a little help will learn amazingly fast.One trap you can't fall in though, is saying it's just for one year, because then he won't feel motivated to learn, I've seen that too.
It is assumed that kids here will get tutoring, it is just the way the system seems to work. So there is no stigma attached to it.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Thank you so much for the mentoring words. We are very determined to help the kids integrate into their Mexican/Spanish world. It helps for you to reinforce the tutoring idea. We were VERY happy that the tutoring came as his idea too.

Vamanos said...

Hi there. I just stumbled on your blog. I am doing the same thing here in Merida - but with two girls - ages 8 and 5.5 (3rd grade and Kinder3). I haven't read your whole blog yet - but we sound like kindred spirits! I'm at!

Michele in Playa said...

We moved to Mexico in 2004 with our three kids, then 11, 3 and 18 months. It took our oldest 2 painful years to come to grips with the move, suck it up and learn Spanish. Obviously, this was painful to watch. Today, all three are fluent and doing well in their various schools. You are handling the challenges very well and I applaud you. I have seem SO MANY pack it in and go back home. The life experiences you are providing for your children will make them much stronger and more interesting. Good for you!!