Monday, August 16, 2010

Back-to-school: Share positive news about your day!

Many kids started kindergarten today. Feel free to share good news about your day.


  1. I'll start:

    This AM was a toughie. Our daughter was very anxious and crying and didn't want to go. And her mom (my wife, the enabler) was anxious crying and not helping things at all.

    Fortunately our sitter came with us, so I dragged my wife and our sitter dragged our daughter and we all went to school. Our daughter was still a little pensive, but she went in and wound up having a pure blast! She's really looking forward to school tomorrow.

    One down, 2500 more to go!

  2. Please, anyone, please write about how your child went to their first day of kindergarten in an immersion program and saw several children missing! Okay, so I have had a few glasses of wine but our child did NOT start kindergarten today, how sad. I hope you all had a great experience.

  3. My kindergarter started the day crying, had a few tough moments and by the end of the day wanted to know if she had homework she could do. Classic. Though I think volunteering in class will be a better way to find out what happened all day than repeated asking her... -Jim M

  4. To poster 9:08, you should check out Marshall. I do not KNOW there are openings, but I would bet there will be.

  5. We started today at Marshall. For our family the day couldn't have gone better. Our daughter put her uniform on, kept checking the clock all morning (because she didn't want to be late) and she was bouncing on the way to school.

    She was all smiles, excited to be sitting on the rug at her new school. She said that she understood some of what was being said in Spanish and that she already knew one of the Spanish songs.

    She said they had recess like 5 times!

    I wish I could remember everything she said about school. It was a great day for us parents. Our daughter is young, and after seeing her today - we felt really good about our decision to send her to K. She seemed so ready.

    Of course I am sure she will be protesting school and kicking and screaming after the newness and excitement wear off, but for us parents, it felt good.

    FYI - I counted two missing students among the 44 K

  6. 9:08 here, thanks 9:51 for the info. Marshall is not our waitpool, we have a private back-up (not immersion)so after waitpool dissolves we are stronlgly thinking Marshall.

  7. 9:08/11:22

    I'm sorry that you didn't get to go to public school today and I truly feel for you. I am sure that you will have an incredible 1st day of school at your private (if you don't get off the waitlist for public).

    Hope we see you later in the year or for 1st grade. Best

  8. We had a GREAT day at Jean Parker ES today! I talked to some veteran moms about a week before school and based on their input I put some recommendations together. We also read some great books which talked about school separation fears and it really helped.

    In fact, our preparations even helped ME feel less nervous. Check out recommendations on my blog and feel free to email your comments/questions there.

  9. Our son had a great first day at Lafayette. His K class has 14 boys and eight girls, and three of the girls did not show up, so the boy-factor was a little unnerving. The teacher said two of the girls are expected later this week, and one is a no show. (In case you are on the waiting list.)

    We were surprised at how easily our son took to the new environment. We heard no complaints! Overall it went much more smoothly than expected. Good luck to everyone this week and beyond... especially those not yet assigned to a school. I feel for you.

  10. Our son wasn't nervous until we got to the school and he saw all the parents and students gathered on the blacktop. Then he turned and gave me a huge hug! It helped a great deal that our school (Rosa Parks JBBP) had arranged a number of potluck playdates over the summer and the PTA President (i think?) hosted a bbq this past saturday so the kids could play together and meet their teacher.

    Another nice touch was that they provided breakfast for the parents after dropping their kids off. My son is excited about school and is already learning Japanese. I think he's handling it better than me since I can't seem to focus on work one bit. Which is why I'm visiting this blog and not preparing for my meeting... ;)

  11. My daughter started kindergarten today and was very excited to go to school. I think the fact that the school had a kindergarten camp the week before was very helpful. She already knew a lot of the kids and her teacher when we got there. She said she cried once during the school day because she missed me but got over it quickly. Her favorite part of the day was recess!

  12. For those of you who wanted immersion for their child and couldn't get in, I would like to point out the MEEP (Miraloma Educational Enrichment Program)is starting Spanish immersion classes K-5 on 23Aug10. There was still room for a few more kids last night. The price is $12 kid/per class for non-MEEP kids and there are 4 classes per week Monday-Thursday. The teacher is a native speaker. If you are interested go to and klick on Forms. There are also Mandarin classes, but I don't know if they have room as I signed my kids up for Spanish.

  13. We started 1st grade at a new school.. it went great! I was worried going from a school of 85 students (preK-8, though 16 in K last year) to one of 300 would be stressful.. but he had a blast. Loved his new teacher and classroom and loved the after-school program so much he was mad when his father picked him up an hour early.

    There was a welcoming breakfast and it was good to meet some parents though I felt a little left out, its funny how cliquish the parents were. In other words, he did better than I did!

    best of luck to all, and to those still waiting.. it will work out. I didn't think it would for us and we ended up at our #1 choice.

  14. To 9:45 AM, don't call what they're doing at Miraloma "immersion," because it's not. Having a daily foreign language is great (if a kids can really go to all 4 days). Immersion is 4-5 hours of Spanish a day, 5 days a week, and you can't do that in an after school program.

  15. 10:20 I don't think you should give me a hard time in regard to the term "immersion". I know that it's not immersion in the sense that you point out. But the teacher will be speaking no English with the kids and each class is over 1 hour, so that's about 5 hours of Spanish only/week. I was only trying to help, because I understand that lots of parents are disappointed about not having gotten what they wanted. And for the record, I speak 4 languages fluently, my kids are bilingual German/English and fluency can be achieved in other forms than pure immersion only.

  16. There is also a after care Spanish and Mandarin in McKinley that is 2 hours a day for 4 days a week.

    But I hear that there is are 10 families on the wait pool already.

  17. To 11:40, you're using the term "immersion" wrong. Please stop. It's false advertising. The terminology around language education is very confusing and confused (find someone who can explain the difference between a "bilingual" program and a "bilingual-bicultural" program). Miraloma is starting an afterschool language program. That's great, but there's no history of successfully making kids fluent. And it's not "immersion," no matter how many languages you speak.

  18. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics:

    Foreign language immersion programs, also referred to as one-way immersion programs, are designed for English-speaking students. They vary in intensity and structure according to the model implemented. The following are two main types of immersion programs (Center for Applied Linguistics, 2006a):

    Total Immersion – Programs in which all subjects in the lower grades (K-2) are taught in the target language; instruction in English usually increases to 20%-50% in the upper elementary grades (3-6), depending on the program. Initial literacy instruction is provided in the target language. Programs may continue in middle school and high school with classes taught in the target language.

    Partial Immersion – Programs in which approximately 50% of instruction is provided in the target language. Initial literacy instruction may be provided in either the target language or English or in both languages simultaneously. Programs may continue in middle school and high school with classes taught in the target language.

    A variation of the immersion model is called two-way immersion or two-way bilingual immersion. Two-way programs use both English and another language for instruction. One third to two thirds of the students in each class are native speakers of English; the remainder are native speakers of the other language, most often Spanish.

  19. We spent the first day of school at the Zoo because we didn't get our call for waitpool school yet :(

  20. Wow, 2:39 PM. This week for the 0-fers has to be very hard. You put it very well. I know it's crazy for those in a school they don't like, but the Zen-like "waiting for the call" of those not registered at all... Well, at least I hope you can be Zen-like. Good luck.

  21. FYI, 1:26pm, there is no evidence that immersion programs make English speakers fluent in another language either, although they work very well for native speakers. People tend to assume that the findings that target language speakers become fluent in two languages will apply to English speakers, but this is not the case.

    From the US DOE:
    "After only 2 or 3 years in an immersion program, [English-speaking] students... listening and reading skills are comparable to those of native speakers of the same age. While these skills remain native-like, students' speaking and writing skills lag behind those of native speakers. Research finds that immersion students' second language lacks grammatical accuracy and does not display the variety and complexity produced by native speakers of the language... parents [of English-speaking children] need to understand that native-like proficiency in every skill area is unlikely."

    Language immersion is a nice option, but the idea that dual-immersion programs will make English-speaking kids bilingual is simply wrong. English speakers are placed in these programs to provide target language speakers with models of pronunciation/usage and any second language gains by English speakers are incidental. Attempting to learn a second language without being surrounded by that same language in everyday life, as native Spanish/Cantonese/Korean/Mandarin speakers in San Francisco are, is not likely to lead to fluency no matter how many hours kids spend in the classroom.

    As a result, I think that Miraloma's efforts to create after-school options to (what are presumably native English-speaking) parents interested in second language acquisition for their children are an excellent idea. The word immersion is used differently by different people but generally means that language instruction is provided solely in the target language during the period of instruction. As a result I don't see any problem with calling it after-school immersion.

  22. 1:26 here. To 3:06 PM, it's true that 'immersion' "generally means that language instruction is provided solely in the target language during the period of instruction." But only when the topic of instruction is not the language itself. It only counts as language immersion when, say, history, is taught using the target language as the medium of instruction. They don't call high school Spanish class "immersion" even though it's supposed to be taught all in Spanish.

    Your point about fluency is well-taken. Many monoglot English speakers are just so impressed by someone speaking a foreign language that they can't tell the difference between "true fluency" and "very good speaker." For all the hype about SFUSD's Spanish immersion, many kids can't pass the Lowell language assessment test and end up in Spanish 1.

    I also think it's great that Miraloma parents want to start an afterschool language program. Parents need to realize that the language level attained by their children will be lower than those in immersion programs.

  23. 3:06 - I think you misread the US DOE excerpt that you posted. The excerpt is a positive one, saying that after only 2-3 years, these immersion students had achieved parity with their native speaking peers in listening and reading. PARITY! that is amazing. The fact that these students are behind their native speaking peers in speaking and writing after 2-3 years and may continue to lag native speakers is not evidence that these programs are a failure.

    As you know, the immersion programs in SFUSD continue through elementary school (total of 6 years) and potentially through middle school (another 3 years).

    Saying that the immersion programs do not produce fluent or bilingual speakers is wrong on your part and is not supported by your excerpt.

    I applaud the efforts of Miraloma, McKinley, Flynn and the myriad of schools offering language instruction options. There is no reason to slam one or the other. Many people learn languages differently, for different purposes. Both can/should coexist.

  24. No matter what definition of "immersion" you use, after-school language program is not immersion.

  25. 1:26 here. I absolutely applaud the efforts of all the schools trying to provide a language program after school. Just don't call it "immersion" when it obviously isn't.

    I don't think there's any research on whether these types of programs truly give students any language capability though. On the tour of Grattan, the principal told us that few kids continued the afterschool Spanish after 2nd grade. They are sometimes "play" or "exposure" programs that get repetitive and aren't appropriate for older kids, especially to take the same "class" for 3 or four years. I have heard that some of the Chinese programs use the SFUSD materials, but I don't know how effective they are either.

  26. My daughter started at Commodore Sloat and did great after a little trepidation with the huge gathering of larger people in the yard. We are all thrilled that the year of worry is over and the school year has begun. My best wishes to everyone still waiting -- we know a handful that are and it's so tough.

  27. My youngest started Spanish Immersion at Monroe. She marched off with a huge grin, and I got something in my eye.

    My oldest, now a second-grader, certainly doesn't have the pronunciation or vocabulary to match her native-speaking peers, but she is reading ahead of her grade level in Spanish, and she speaks and writes the language well. I can't say whether she'll pass the grammar test at Lowell but I can say she'd be perfectly able to communicate if we helicoptered her into Madrid or Buenos Aires. This makes me very happy.

  28. I don't actually have a helicopter. That's a figure of speech. If I had a helicopter I'd sell it to fund our arts program.

  29. It's interesting that the blog post was about the children's first day at school and yet there's more talk about what immersion is and isn't.
    As a new parent in SF and in the SFUSD, I anticipate much parent involvement in the schools as there is talk on the blogs.
    Our schools should be busting at the seams with all of our enthusiasm and passion!
    Our child had a great first day and said the second day was even better! We, too, are waiting for a call from the EPC, but in the meantime, are cheering him on in learning and making friends.
    What are you and I modeling to our children as we wait? Do they see us as supporters or complainers? Do they see us being a part of the solution or creating more of a problem?
    We are responsible for raising up the next generation. And the great positive influencers of the world are not coined by what elementary school they attended but rather their passion and their gifts and how they bettered society.
    We desire a certain school in the city, but consider what we teach at home far more impressionable than what they will ever be taught in school.

  30. 9:48
    Thanks. I was wondering how the positive news post was derailed by ugly Immersion program debates! I am not even sure what an Immersion program is to tell the truth, but I know crazy posters when I read their posts.

  31. Yes, thank you 9:48, for your positive supportive post. What a relief. There are some sane parents on here after all!

  32. 9:48, I agree with you. I feel so sad for the kids whose parents are so stressed out about their school placement that the kids fear they are going to a "bad school." They don't really know what it means, they only know that it's a bad thing and that the parents are very unhappy about this new adventure the child is embarking on.

  33. My kid has no idea we are on a waiting list for another school. He has no idea he might get moved. I wouldn't dare mention it to him for fear he'd worry about. He loves the school he started in and I know if we do get the EPC call it will be a rough transition. I'm imagining tears and stomping feet outside the WP school and refusing to go in.

  34. I don't think the first day of school is a big deal. The kids will like whatever environment where they can meet new friends, play, and do interesting things.

    However, it was a great day (days) for us because we met other parents, who are kind, dedicated, friendly and fun to talk to. That makes us feel very comfortable and happy.

    Of course, it is also great that daughter said she likes the school (despite being a non-native speaker in an immersion program).

  35. We had a great 1st day at Starr King. Our daughter has been very excited all summer. We all woke up early which is rare for our family and getting there on time went very smoothly. She looked so cute in her uniform!

    I was worried that she'd freak out at the last minute, but she didn't. She was a little nervous but that was all. I think the welcome bbq a few days before and the fact that we know a few kids there already helped.

    Her report is that she loves her K teacher. It's fun! And she has been telling us some Chinese words she's learned.

    I have a good feeling about the new principal and feel very comfortable with all the staff and other parents that we've met.

    When we picked her up she was in very good spirits. She ran and gave us a hug. We asked if she had a good day. She jumped up and down and said yes!

  36. 7:48, would it be such a big mistake just to remove yourself from the waitpool and commit to the school where your child is happy?

  37. 7:48 here responding a week later. Yes, it would have been a big mistake. He is the oldest of 3 kids. We will be at the elementary school for 11 to 12 years. We wanted to be at the school 3 blocks from our house. We knew this would allow us to be more involved at the school, drop in, volunteer, attend mid-week PTA mtgs etc. The school he was very happy at was 15 minutes drive from home with no parking. Pick up and drop off was a mess. Plus it was a GE program. Why drive by one GE program everday to get to another one? Didn't make sense to me.

    We got the call 4 days in. Made the transfer on the 5th day and couldn't be happier. The transfer day sucked, tears, running out, etc. But the second day was fine and now we've been a the WP school longer than the 4 days at the first school.

    I feel like we truley won the lottery. I'm still pinching myself. He rides his bike to school everyday and we walk along with him.