Only you can truly answer that!
It's that time of year when, if you haven't already, you need to start considering schools for your child's Kindergarten next fall. If you are new to the concept of language immersion, you have an intimidating decision in your near future. I know, my husband and I did! Maybe you’ve chosen a school or program and maybe you’re still looking, just know the decision will be yours. No one will be able to tell you what situation is right for your child and family, nor should they try to. The decision to enroll in a language immersion program should really be a family decision. One of the major things to consider is if you plan to be in the same place and school/school district for at least the next six years. Obviously things change and come up, but switching language immersion schools or pulling our kiddo out fo the program can be challenging because of the different levels at which they learn things. The best advice I received, was to do your research!
Tour potential schools within your desired commute : whether you are searching out a language immersion school or you are lucky to have one in your district, go to the school, take a tour, explore the feelings you get from the learning environment.
If you are considering private schools, consider the long term costs : What are the costs of a private school? Find out historically, how often and how much have the costs of education inflated in this particular school. As children grow, what expenses are required for each grade level? Will you need to buy iPad's or computers etc.
Meet teachers, principals and support staff : Meet and talk to school staff. Are there personalities and mannerisms consistent with what you envision for your child's education. Is the communication and educational support cohesive between the teachers, administrators and other support staff.
Ask questions about the programs structure and focus for each year (each year is different) : Learn and understand what the learning focus is for each grade level. Learn about the specialty and support programs your school offers if there are learning challenges with the material.
Ask to speak to other parents going through or that have experienced the program : When signing my son up for Chinese Immersion in our district, my husband and I attended an information night where other parents with kids going through the program came to answer our questions. I cannot tell you how comforting this was. These parents could answer to the program, the teachers, the support staff and what homework looked like at each grade level. I was relieved to find out that most of these parents didn't speak much of the language their kids were learning either.
Ask about what is expected from you as a parent : this is super important!! You should understand what you are committing too as a parent to help make your child's education journey a success. In our district it was communicated that reading 30 minutes every night to our kiddos was expected and needed for their continued success. In other words, that one task would help tremendously with their English learning at home and allow for greater success through the grade levels.
Here are a few other things to consider while exploring your options. You must identify what your family is looking to get out of your child’s early education. Are you willing and able to be involved in your child’s education? Is it important to your family to be able to communicate in the global community? Does your child have other challenges or learning disabilities they are working on overcoming? Will a language immersion program compliment your child and your family?
Understand, that most language immersion programs require entry in kindergarten or first grade, and continue through 5th grade or even higher. Most programs have tremendous resources to really support a positive and successful learning experience but ask those questions and find out for yourself. It may be uncomfortable at times, you MUST be able to trust the program and their process. You must be able to trust the educators, in order to get the most out of your child's educational experience. Understand that most programs also have a withdrawal procedure, if in-fact your child is not progressing in the program.
Most important, you should feel comfortable and understand the commitment you’re making to your child’s education. With all that being said, you are still taking a leap of faith! Check with your local school districts or private institutions to learn more about the programs available to you.