Friday, September 28, 2012

First Month of Spanish School

Kai has made it through the first month of Spanish School.  It's been an adjustment, but overall she is doing fantastic.  Of course, there's the fact that she says she "hates Spanish school"... which would indicate that things are really not going well.  But, when we delve in a bit deeper, we find that she likes playing, dress-up, her new friends, lunchtime, outside time, soccer (they get to be in a soccer class once a week! And Kai says she loves outdoor soccer!  Spanish School is worth the price of tuition for this alone... just kidding), and art. So, we ask her, recognizing that she has just described 95% of school hours, "what do you hate?"

"Oh,"  she replies, "the Spanish."

So, there's that.  But, that was to be expected.  It's a brand new language.  Her teachers speak it exclusively all day.  She doesn't know what they are saying.  It's frustrating.  Of course it is.  So, we tell her that the Spanish is new and it's hard to not know what is going on, but that she'll continue to get better.  Kai doesn't really like to take things slow... so, the adjustment has been hard on her.

But, it's remarkable to me how much she already knows.  She comes home every day singing a new Spanish song or saying some new phrase.  The other evening, she asked us if we wanted to "play Spanish school."  We said we would love to and then Kailey hesitated and said, "OK, but we have to pretend that ENGLISH is SPANISH."  Because, of course, she doesn't know enough Spanish to imitate her teachers in Spanish.  Duh.

So, we started "playing Spanish school" and Kai started off saying, "vamos a la mesa", (in Spanish, obviously).   I asked her what "vamos a la mesa" meant, attempting to repeat the phrase as she had said it to us.  But, alas, I failed (I always fail in my Spanish pronunciation with Kai... she LOVES correcting me) and she said, "no, you have to say it muy rapido, mama! Like this..." and then she repeated the phrase, faster.  So we sat down and she said we were going to do "arte" and that Eric could use "verde" and I had to be "blanco".  The evening preceded in that fashion, with Kailey using so many new phrases and words... we were so impressed.  At the end of the evening, she said, "hasta manana, me papa et mama!"  and then headed off to bed (with Eric following behind to read her stories).

In addition to mastering a new language, she is also navigating new relationships with all the kids in her class. The first day, she said she had one friend, Magnus.  By the end of the first week, she had 2 friends.  But, she was upset because she said that most of the kids "didn't love her."  And, what she meant was they weren't playing with her.  It was hard.  Now, she has about 6 kids she talks about on a rotating basis. On different days, different kids are categorized as "friend".  The other evening she said, "I hit Thomas at school."  We were, of course, not pleased.  So, she backtracked, "NOOO... I just hit him A LITTLE.  Just a LITTLE hit."  We were still not pleased.  She responded, "He hit me, too."  We asked her if it was nice to respond by hitting back and she clarified, "NOOO... I hit him FIRST.  THEN he hit me."  We asked her why she hit him and she explained he tried to take the toy and then reiterated, "it was a LITTLE hit.  And then we laughed.  We made it a joke.  We were just goofing off."  If anything, she knows how to argue her way out of a hole.  But, we are working on alternative methods of communication.  I am glad that she seems to be developing a core group of kids that she enjoys, even if there are conflicts along the way.

So, despite her protests and insistence that she "hates" Spanish School, I don't really think she does.  She is challenged by Spanish School and really trying hard to catch up to her classmates and develop new relationships with the new kids, most of whom have been together and at this for a couple of years already.  She is frustrated at how hard it is to learn a new language and how much she still doesn't understand.  But, she is interested in the effort and eager to show us what she has already mastered.  And, I think that's a good sign.

Last night she brought home all her art projects for the month of September.  She was show proud showing us all she had created.  And, we are so proud of her!

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