This story parallels many young learners’ experiences here at Little Mountain, who with the parents’ support at home, can improve in leaps and bounds after only a few months of classes at the Butterfly level. Read this family’s story, think about your own experience using the questions which follow, and please find Fiona (Lead teacher to the Young Learners) to share your own child’s experience. Copies of the questionnaire are also available at the front desk.
I remember that Emanuel was four, almost turning five when we visited Little Mountain. During the previous year I had been teaching him letters and syllables in Spanish. I had bought materials in Spanish, an array of magnets, books and workbooks, but I felt that we couldn’t pass the barrier of recognizing a word. Also, I was feeling discouraged because the process required continuity, program structure and discipline. We had none of that.
Both my husband Mauricio and I wanted to supplement Emanuel’s kindergarten experience with a program that could focus on reading. Around March, we decided to make English and Reading a priority. My goal was to have Emanuel “read” by September. At the time, especially during the first two weeks, it seemed like it was a lost cause. Emanuel didn’t have the focus, he couldn’t hold the pencil right and he had a lot to work on fine motor skills. We decided to try for three months until the summer, and we decided to drop Spanish since it was causing more confusion.
After those three months we started to see some improvements. By September, Emanuel was reading simple sentences and his writing had improved tremendously. It did require constant supervision at home and doing all the homework for each class, but it became a routine and the complaining became less frequent.
In any case, things started to change in my heart too. My new concern was that Emanuel would be able to verbalize his emotions and his experiences in kindergarten. At that age, most of the feedback from school was “I don’t know”. That was frustrating to me because I felt that I was losing connection with his world. “What do you mean by that?: You don’t remember? You don’t know the answer? You don’t want to talk? You want to talk but you don’t know how to explain?”
His answer was simply “I don’t know”.
“Emanuel, who did you play with today?” “I don’t know…”. “Mom, do you want to play Lego with me?”
I decided to put more effort in keeping a close and trusting relationship with my son, giving him opportunities to share his views. Also, he needed vocabulary to become articulate and specific. Expressing emotions became a priority.
Time went by and Emanuel was able to articulate his feelings much better. He also became more assertive, which pleased me. He was setting boundaries with everyone: dad, mom, sister, friends. He does need some fine-tuning because he can be blatantly rude. “No, it’s mine.”; “You made a mistake, say sorry!”; “I am not talking to you!”
The vocabulary, the capacity to read and write has been improving since the start of his ESL classes. He was growing in this area in conjunction to his widening experiences with the outside world.
Looking back, I am amazed at how much Emanuel grew in the past ten months. He can now read, write and articulate his thoughts. He applies these skills in spite of the pain and the confusion, to solve real life situations. And for that, I am extremely grateful to Fiona and to Little Mountain. You have been wonderful!
Little Mountain wants to know about parents’ experience of their child’s learning and progress. Please answer the following questions and submit to Fiona, Kang, or Kay. The results will be used as a way to further strengthen our learning community which includes teachers, children, and their families. Your contribution may be published.
• What did you think your child needed when you first decided to come to Little Mountain?
• What are your values for education and parenting?
• How have you witnessed your child’s academic and social growth over the course of his or her time at Little Mountain?
• What do you think are some of the reasons for his growth (motivation? curiosity? support at home? academic family?)
• What have you learned overall from your experience that you could share with other parents?