If you haven’t had read the NY Times article, “My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling” by Clifford J. Levy, you need to do that now. It is insightful, well written, and will help make sense to the rest of this post.
After I read his article, I felt like he had some really good points for parents who have children attending schools where the family’s first language is not taught.
1. He mentions that his oldest daughter had an inner struggle with not being able to learn the language “effortlessly”. I think as parents we need to remember that though kids do learn languages quicker than adults, it does take effort and time. Also, we need to make sure our children understand this so they do not see themselves as the “dumb foreigner.”
2. Mr. Levy and his wife researched schools online and then had the opportunity to visit the school before enrolling their children. They met the founder of the private school and learned about his philosophy. Most families are not able to actually go to the school beforehand, but research is definitely a possibility now with the internet.
3. Mr. Levy and his wife didn’t force their children to stay in the Russian private school. They gave them the option of leaving and starting at the international school. Interestingly, though, none of the children took them up on this offer. They all stayed in the Russian school and began to survive, then thrive. The Levy’s, I believe, were fortunate to have this option. Not every family has the option of schools available with their first language taught.
4. It seems that the Levy children noticed their own personal academic strengths. They put their energy into those subjects to show some success. The strength was math. I’ve witnessed this when I taught at the international schools. I noticed that the favorite subject of almost every ESL student I had was math. It was the one subject they could really succeed and even be at the top of the class in. As parents, we need to watch for this and encourage our children in their strengths.
So, I’m curious to hear from you. What are your thoughts about this article? If you are sending your child to a school that is not taught in your native language, how have you helped your child(ren) cope? Please share in the comments below.