Some of you know we have been working for a year to get Stella through Kindergarten and into first grade.
I look for advice from friends and family until we figured what we would do.
Some parents said to us your daughter should repeat kindergarten.
Some others said to us how you could put a 6-year-old through so much stress, and others told me, follow your mom’s instinct.
Months went by, and I figured our story should be said, why? To hopefully help other parents who may be going through the same. We keep teaching our kids that no matter what if you work hard, you will get what you want; if you work hard, you will succeed.
For one year, our little girl at such a young age went through all kinds of tests. She studied her whole summer, to continue in her school and to move onto first grade.
I was not opposed to our daughter repeating kindergarten, only if there was a real reason for that (besides it was kindergarten). We were able to financially support her therapies, doctors, time off from work, etc.;
But I guaranteed you if we would not be on top of this situation, Stella may have repeated kindergarten.
Finally, on August 14th, after eight weeks studying every single day during summer break working on math, reading, writing, etc. Stella had her summer test to see she will move to first grade, and her teacher said she is moving to first grade. Finally, WE WERE ABLE TO TAKE A BREAK!!! A WELL DESERVED BREAK.
We talked so much to Stella telling her how proud we were of her hard work, of all, she had done, and she will say to us I am ready for 1st grade.
When I got the email about Stella passing the test, I had tears and could not stop crying, because we have worked so much for her to move to first grade and finally, after all, WE DID IT!!!
I hope God gives me the strength and wisdom to help other families.
Those less fortunate, those who don’t have enough money to treat their kids or to take them to therapies, to test them, etc.; are the ones who DO need our help.
If your kid is bilingual, you have to work harder; there may be some delays in their learning abilities, but that does not mean your kid is not capable.
After all this, we have gone through I keep wondering what happened to families who only speak Spanish at home, who somewhat understand English? And can’t even understand what is going on.
I hope to see different educational methods taught at schools, not all kids learn at the same pace, not all kids learn just sitting at their desk, not all kids are good at math (I was one of them) oh well! But that doesn’t determine your success in life.
Our situation may sound ironic to some, ridiculous to some, overwhelming to others, but it happens; the question is? Is it too soon for a kid to be reading and writing almost flawlessly in kindergarten. Things have changed over the years; as my mother says, I do not remember you were writing not even reading in kindergarten.
Do you remember that? I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS
I am pretty sure our story may be similar to many families. Although to be honest I never thought we would be going through all this and we hope to give you some ideas on how to help your bilingual child.
Our story began two weeks after school started. When we request to meet and greet our kids’ teacher, we like to share a little bit of who our kids are. For us, education comes from home and school.
We met with our daughter’s kindergarten teacher. She showed us different assessments where Stella had performed poorly; her teacher was very concern about our daughter learning abilities. She mentioned to us, she had tested the worst Pre-k student, and he had performed better than our daughter.
If our daughter speaks another language (which she does, she speaks Spanish), it will be best to stop doing it.
She may get confused; her teacher also mentioned Stella seemed bored.
Stella falls asleep in the afternoon at school(maybe she needed time to adjust to her new full-time school routine); besides, her teacher told me in her 14th years teaching she has never seen a kid like Stella. (How could you feel as a parent?!)
It was the 2nd time we would go through this, as our son was also requested by his Pre-K teacher to be pre-screened through Child Find, he seemed to have learning disabilities. Tyler didn’t know how to communicate in English; he knew just a few words.
Ever since Tyler was born, he immersed in the Spanish language.
When he attended Pre-K, he was so desperate to communicate, so he used his hands to describe (anyhow that is another story).
Long story short, his tests came back as an average bilingual child, in-process or learning, without any learning disabilities concerns.
We are going back to Stella. Her teacher recommended testing her learning abilities. We should take her to her pediatrician and to therapies to see if there was something else going on. So our therapy year began in September of 2018. In a way, it is great to have the opportunity to find out if there is something else that we couldn’t see.
We began searching what public school system does in this instances as her teacher from Aquinas Regional School mentioned there might be some help we could get from the Public Schools System.
We met with the Aquinas School principal. I went to a catholic school in Perú. If you go to the principal’s office is most of the time for something BAD.
Going to the principal’s office was the last thing I wanted to do because it was only for BAD THINGS that you go to the principal; so I could not even sleep thinking about this meeting. My husband would tell me everything will be OK.
Finally, it was the day of our meeting. Stella’s teacher shared her concerns with the principal and us. I am pretty sure the principal had already heard about it, so mainly Sister Kateri Rose (our principal at Aquinas), said we are here for the best of your child and to try to help her love learning and being in school. Then I told her about my experience going to Catholic school it was the worst thing going to the principal’s office (BIG LAUGH from everyone)
During the meeting, we also admitted we as parents made mistakes since we weren’t doing much homework with Stella when she was in Pre-K. Both of us work, and in all honesty, we were lazy, BUT we also knew when Stella got into Aquinas, things will change, because we had already heard about the high academic standards Aquinas in which we knew we would be doing homework, reading daily, etc., etc.
At the end of the meeting, the principal and Stella’s teacher asked us to reconsider Stella’s placement into kindergarten and that we should consider to transfer her to Pre-K, to what I firmly said we have to think about it. That is a HUGE decision to make. And of course, they gave us time to think.
It was only the 6th week into the kindergarten school year, and to us, it was too soon to determine Stella’s learning abilities. As a mother, I wanted to fight for our daughter; this would not be the first time going through this, as our son had also been considered to have learning disabilities and he was merely bilingual. But perhaps there was something else, besides all kids are not the same.
We continue communicating with Stella’s teacher through the next months, the very next day I called Leesylvania Public School, and they were beneficial, explaining to me that we should have an intervention meeting with the Social Worker or the school, the psychologist of the school, Leesylvania kindergarten teacher, Stella’s kindergarten teacher, and School Administrator.
My husband and I were in the meeting, of course. Stella’s teacher explained her concerns as well as she showed Stella’s worksheets. Some of the crucial moments during the conversation was when Leesylvania kindergarten teacher mentioned to Stella’s teacher that she had 14 kids like Stella in her class. She said during the meeting that sometimes kids when they do not understand something, is because, in their brain, they are trying to process both languages. Bilingual kids can learn, although it is easier for them to learn using different methods, like singing, popping balloons with letters, games, playing outside, discovering in The Leesylvania Kindergarten teacher gave great ideas to Stella’s teacher, that could help Stella.
We agree Aquinas Regional School has high standards when it comes to teaching at any school grade. Perhaps Stella was performing just fine as a kindergarten in a public school but not for Aquinas High Academics standards.
Many nights went by thinking about what could we do to help our daughter. I kept telling myself; this is my daughter; her teacher is concern about her learning abilities; what should we do? How can I prove there is nothing wrong? Or if something is going on, find the best method to help her continue growing academically.
Another thing I was concerned was if Stella felt good with her teacher, because that is important and THANK GOD, Stella loved her teacher, and that meant a lot to us. Because if she would have a bad relationship with her teacher, it will be even worse.
We worked together, we kept Stella’s teacher about her therapies, Aquinas ESOL also helped us A LOT, she will come to her classroom to read with her or even Stella will be removed from her class to do extra work with her.
Some kids DO NEED EXTRA HELP; it will be nice if there is an afterschool dedicated program to help them. I am pretty sure there are a lot of kids who will perform better if they received that extra help, right?
We began her therapy sessions, some of the things we learned through her sessions were that she was so spoiled we would not even let her say complete sentences. Like if she wanted something she would say: Mommy apple, instead of saying Mommy can I have an apple? Or she would say Mommy door, instead of saying Can you open the door? And when she cried, every time she cried was the worst, we guessed everything and never let her speak. And if she was around her Peruvian grandparents, YESSSS the blonde, a blue-eyed girl will get away with anything with a simple cry or pointing at things. SO WE LEARNED, from now on, she needs to speak in complete sentences.
Another thing we have been learning from her therapy is Stella needs to get to know her different emotions like when she is sad, happy, scared, surprised, frustrated, etc. etc…and learn to differentiate from each of them.
In our case, we learned if our daughter cries, we come down to her and tell her, what is going on? Explain to us why you are upset? What happened and little by little that will help her open up, not only in situations where she is frustrated but in general, and it will help her express her feelings.
When Stella had to learn about the sound of letters to start reading I could not help her (until this day I can say she knows more than me when it comes to the sound of the letters) I read in English almost perfectly although when I went to school NO ONE taught us the sound of the letters. Now it makes sense, but I never learned it, so how could I help her? I sent an email to our wonderful mother in law asking for help (you know) any phone call with Bryan, will ask, are you reading to Stella? You need to sit down with her and practice. She also sent us books and games to practice with her.
Bryan sat down many nights with a peanut Reese cup as a reward if she practices the sound of letters. Daddy worked so hard with her, and it paid off.
During all this process as a bilingual parent, I agree to something. For the best of Stella, anything academically had to be in English, and all personal, at least with me will be in Spanish.
Every year we take the kids to Peru, but this will be a different year. It will be best to stay and focus on Stella academics to move on to first grade. Hopefully, we will be able to continue doing our summer immersion attending school in Peru so that that time will tell.
To our friends and family THANK YOU for giving us HOPE.
To Stella’s teachers and her school THANK YOU, for their patience and support.
To my husband, for not giving up, for learning together about being parents. It is not easy, and for all his patience during this time.
HAPPY 1ST GRADE DEAR STELLA ROSE,
May GOD bless you and guide you every day!
Love MOM & DAD