The day we’d been awaiting for finally came: first day of school at Franklin Language Academy’s dual immersion Spanish class. Camila, my husband and I had been getting all the essentials like the backpack, lunchbox, name tags and such ready, but we had also been gently reminding the girl that this school would be different than her Montessori preschool because it was all in Spanish. I even took her with me on a trip to Cancun last week where she got to visit her cousins so she could reconnect with them, but also with the language she was already rebelling about.
I have to admit, though, that all the preparation and encouragement didn’t really calm her nerves, although she did a great job at hiding them.
The whole familia of three, walked into the school yard at 7:40 am to check out which of the two Spanish Kinder teachers Camila had been placed with. We found her name under Sra. R’s class (withholding full name until I get permission to use it!) and we walked over to where her group of eager kindergartners awaited under the scorching August California sun. The first girl we met was from Colombian decent, spoke Spanish to us and her name was also Camila! To our right, a couple from Spain were snapping away pictures of their girl next to Sra. R’s Kinder Spanish Class sign. She also spoke Spanish. Then a sea of boys came in and the lively chaos began.
Next to Sra. R’s Kinder Spanish class were groups of kids forming to enter their classrooms for either French, German, Italian or Spanish. I relished from looking around and checking out the beautiful diversity in the school yard. Languages, skin colors, styles, countries all co-existing in one school. In awe.
After a welcome from the Principal and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, while teaching my girl how to place her right hand over her heart, Sra. R announced it was time for the kids to form one line and follow her to their classroom. Parents could walk next to them, kiss them goodbye at the door and then watch them go in without us. We did as told, and with every kindergartener step my heart skipped to see my girl so willing and anxious to start this new phase in her (our) life. What I never expected was to feel choked up and be hit with a feeling of emptiness once that classroom door was shut in front of us. That was it. My girl has a new life, and so do we. I’m happy this new life will build her bilingual skills and make her an even more open-armed citizen of the world.
I couldn’t help thinking and being in awe of the parents who’s children don’t speak Spanish yet and trying to put myself in their shoes and how nervous they must be. I mean, Camila understands Spanish perfectly, though she’s been insisting she can’t speak it well, and when I picked her up from school she had a semi-meltdown because she doesn’t want to speak Spanish in school. Or so she says. I didn’t panic, because I figured it was an emotional outburst due to the stress and expectations of the first day of kindergarten. I will admit that it is difficult for her to have a whole conversation in Spanish only, but she will be able to do it in no time. I know she’ll be fine, but even so it’s a nerve-wracking experience and I’m sure it has to be more so for non-Spanish, or whichever target language, speakers.
Would love to hear from parents who already went through this, or are going through it now, and how your first days of immersion school went. Please share in the comments below.