“Mom, I don’t want to go to school”, said Jade as I tucked her into bed. After a few back and forths of my asking “Why? Tell me what you don’t like about it so we can figure out a way to address it”, and Jade answering “I don’t know. I just don’t want to go”, she finally said, “because I don’t understand half of what the teacher is saying so I don’t know what’s going on and the teacher doesn’t have time to explain it to me so I am bored. Only math is not boring because it’s written down and I understand it.”
Phew. I breathed out a sign of relief. After months of worrying about why Jade doesn’t like school, I found out that it’s a normal growing pain of moving to a foreign country. It’s not that the kids are mean. It’s not that she doesn’t have any friends at school. She has a couple now. It’s the language barrier. This I can deal with.
I validated how hard it must be for her and shared my memories of arriving at an American school at the age of eight and not really understanding what was going on. I assured her that by summertime she would understand everything (this is probably little consolation for a nine year old). I also reminded her that her Spanish is way better now than it was in mid-November when school let out for break and when things are challenging, we can either hide, i.e. stay home from school (not really an option), or we can face it and grow from the experience. Oh, the platitudes!
But seriously, what can I say? I know that it’s hard now. It sucks to not understand what’s going on. And I also know that one day fairly soon, she will understand all that is going on, she will have mastered Spanish and this will be a great gift and asset to her. Until then, I just support her best I can. I am also quite relieved because I have been worried that this school is not nearly challenging enough for her but apparently it is. If all she learns this year is Spanish, it will be time very well spent as far as I am concerned.
On a different note, Siena’s teacher came over today for a home visit and it went very well. They really hit it off and Siena was excitedly showing her teacher all of her school supplies and her backpack. She then put on her backpack and walked her teacher to the gate of our conjunto. They were holding hands and Siena yelled out to all of her friends “I am going to school now!” It was really cute and I can not ask for more as she embarks on her first “real” school experience. Two days and counting.