Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kindergarten prep: Are your kids emotionally prepared?

Several SF K Files visitors have suggested that we start a topic on kindergarten prep. There are several components to this topic and so I plan to write a series of posts over the next few weeks. I've decided to start with the emotional aspect of kindergarten prep--specifically for the child. (We can touch touch on emotional preparation for parents in a later post.)

Here's an excerpt from one of the emails I received:

"A topic perhaps of interest to others is how our soon-to-be kindergartners are reacting to the upcoming changes in their lives. My son's preschool, where he has been going for two and a half years ends tomorrow. He knows he's starting a new school in the fall and he has visited it. To add to the changes, we're moving this summer. My son has always been extremely adaptable so I thought he would be fine with it all. And he did appear to be until . . . I finally put two and two together and realized all of the upcoming change is probably the reason why he started frequently wetting (even occasionally pooping) his pants about a month ago. I have read many times that perfectly potty-trained kids can regress when they face changes or stress in their lives, and I felt so horrible when I FINALLY realized a full month into it that this is probably what's happening. Since then I have taken time to talk with him more about the changes and how it feels and to assure him that it is all good. No pee incidents today!"

Are your kids emotionally prepared for kindergarten? How are you preparing your child? What sorts of things are you saying to your child? What are parents saying to children who still don't have a kindergarten? What are preschools doing to prepare kids emotionally?

Monday, June 16, 2008

SFGate forums

I promised myself that I wouldn't use The SF K Files to promote the work I'm doing for SFGate, but I can't resist this time. Currently, there are two forum topics on SFGate that are too perfect for K Files readers. I'd especially love for people to comment in the second forum. We have definitely addressed this topic many times in The K Files but SFGate gets thousands more readers and this is an opportunity to let a larger audience know about the school opportunities in SF.

1) Ideas for pain-free fund-raising Anyone got ideas for fun and easy ways to raise money for an elementary school?

2) Should we stay or should we go? A San Francisco family is torn between navigating the city's complicated school system or moving to the burbs for greener public school pastures.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Out of the wait pool

I just removed our name from the wait pool. We decided to stick with Jose Ortega. The counselor at the EPC said there are now 6 people in the wait pool for Mandarin immersion at Jose Ortega.

Why did you decide to switch?

A few people have emailed to suggest that I start a post where people can comment on why they left a private school or the public school system--after attending the school for one or more years. I would especially love to hear from the parent who is pulling her child out of immersion this year; she commented in the post on gifted children.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New poll: Do you know where you're sending your child to kindergarten in the fall?

I thought it would be interesting to see how many people at this point know where they'll be sending their child to kindergarten next fall. Please answer yes only if you're entirely certain. The poll is to the right.

Starr King in the news

A story in today's San Francisco Chronicle says the students at Starr King are "jaw-droppingly proficient in Mandarin." Read the full story: "Chinese language program a stunning bilingual success."

K Files Council: Gifted children

Topic suggested by reader:
Advice for parents of gifted children considering the public system

"I am afraid there is no way to come off not sounding elitist, and possibly classist or racist, with this question, but I do think it bears asking. My daughter will be one of those entering K reading, counting to 50 (or maybe 100), and having great insight and curiousity into how things work in the world around her. She will be fully prepared for K. One of the things that is attractive about many private schools is that they (purport to) cater to children's individual learning. One great fear about SFUSD and the whole climate of NCLB is that the system is expending many resources (money, time, focus) on those who are lagging. As a member of this community and world, I want every child to have an equal chance to excel. As the parent of my daughter, I want her to be challenged and not be penalized because she is 'ahead' of where others in her class are."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Connect with other families...

A visitor suggested that I start a post where families can connect with other families attending their children's schools. This particular parent is sending her son to Marshall next year and she'd love to start networking with other Marshall families.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ni hao! Wo jiao Kate.

Last weekend, Alice and I started to learn Mandarin. Well, as much as you can learn by watching a beginner's video on You Tube. I'm embarrassed to admit that before Saturday I didn't even know how to say hello. But after 10 minutes I could say: Ni hao! Wo jiao Kate (Hello! My name is Kate!).

Mandarin is an incredibly daunting language, especially for Westerners, because of the tones used in speech to shift meaning--to say nothing of the thousands of characters that must be memorized to achieve true literacy. The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, divides the languages they teach into four groups, from easiest to most difficult, as measured by the number of hours of instruction required to bring students to a certain level of proficiency. Spanish, French, and Dutch require 480 hours of instruction to bring a student to level-2 speaking proficiency; Chinese, Japanese, and Korean require 1,320 hours. Don't think I'll ever become fluent.