In Sparky News

The blog’s been pretty Owlet-centric lately, so the boy should get a post of his own.

The most important news first: a newly lost tooth, as of this morning!

There was much angst about wanting it out properly but being afraid of pulling the last thread by which it hung yesterday. I was hoping it would fall out by itself overnight, as the last one did, but it was still gamely hanging on this morning. The boy twisted and pulled, and HRH finally gave it the last gentle tug required to free it from its shackles. Tonight, the tooth fairy visits!

We got his first report card mid-November. He’s brilliant in English language arts (I don’t think even I got a 98 this early on), excellent at art and music, quite competent in math, and at the class average for French. Problem is, the class average for French isn’t great, and that’s not surprising when you think that they only get an hour a day, or 20% of their class time.

We made a mistake back when we registered him for kindergarten, and erred on the side of caution: I wanted to make sure he had secure foundation in English and math concepts before turning to French immersion. I had no idea his capabilities would explode so completely forward in both areas during kindergarten. In hindsight, if I’d known then what I know now, I’d have put him in French kindergarten and carried on our regular reading and counting in English at home, because it wasn’t going to be an issue.

My problem with all of this is that he’s not being challenged. He’s conscientious about his work, his teacher tells me, which is great, but it’s still too easy for him. He’s not learning coping strategies; he’s not learning how to break problems down and conquer them step by step. And that’s going to come back to bite him badly at some point, like it did me and lots of other people I know, be it in high school CEGEP, or university. So… HRH and I went to the open house information night for the local International School, into which we are seriously considering transferring the boy. The International Baccalaureate programme is a certified standard that focuses on lots of good stuff, and we discovered, to our delight, that there’s lots of arts in this school, as well as sports. The only drawback is that it’s total French immersion, literally the opposite of what he’s doing now: everything is in French except English class. (Interestingly enough, in grade 3 the programme switches to 50/50 French and English… except they do it all French for half a year and all English for the next half.)

The current principal of the International School was transferred there a month ago from the school Sparky is currently at, so she recognized us at the info night (HRH was on the governing board with her). She did the initial presentation to a gym full of parents hoping to test their kids into grade one (the school doesn’t offer a kindergarten programme) and was accordingly mobbed by people afterwards, so we went off to fill in a form with our contact information and leave it with the secretary. Well, two days later the phone rang and it was the principal, apologizing for not being able to spend more time with us, and suggesting a private meeting so we could discuss the curriculum and the potential transfer, since it wasn’t a regular testing into grade one procedure. It’s nice to know people. The meeting went really well, and we got a tour of the school in which we passed not one but three music classes in progress.

So working on the French at home is important for us. At our parent-teacher interview I put in a request for material to work on his French at home, since he doesn’t get French homework and he zips through his reading and math homework in less than fifteen minutes. I downloaded a couple of free French apps for my iPhone, which he began playing with of his own accord this weekend, and already his accent is improving as he works on reading and spelling numbers, and identifying animals (not even I knew what a pieuvre was!). I’m going to get him a Tintin book from the library next time I’m there, and we’ll read that together before we see the film this Christmas holiday.

Cello is going pretty much as expected. It’s symptomatic of the easy ride he’s having at school that he gets frustrated and upset when practicing because it doesn’t come easily to him. It’s a bit overwhelming for him, and so we have to work on breaking a larger task down into smaller elements. Essentially, a lot of homework and learning comes down to self-discipline, which is one of the reasons I initiated music lessons. Working on good practice habits and attention in lessons will, I hope, carry forward and inform other areas in his life.

4 thoughts on “In Sparky News

  1. Pasley

    I read these posts, and I find myself getting anxious all over again about our choices for Devon (and Tallis). I know Devon is very strong in French, and she just informed me that she’s been put into a small, advanced group, selected from the already-advanced French class she was in—which is reassuring, until I remind myself that she’s at an English school. I know her French teacher is good, and she’s strict, too. But is it enough to make Devon fluent? Will that really matter so much? I was good in french in school, all the way through high school, and when I went to a French university for my Master’s degree I had to pass a written and an oral exam in French in order to not have to take a French competancy class. The oral part I think in only passed because I had been working part time at a job where I had to speak in French a lot of the time. Otherwise, I dunno. Anyway, I do admire your choice for Liam, even if I’m not sure I agree with it. I think it’s brave, and I hope it works out for him. :)

  2. Autumn Post author

    Our reasons have nothing to do with making sure he’s bilingual (although that is important to us; I know HRH wishes he was more capable in that area); our reasons are for the incredibly high-standard better programme and educational approach, which just happens to be taught in French for the first two years. You have Devon in a good school that happens to be English. We’re looking at transferring Liam into a good school that happens to be French immersion. Leaving him where he is would be fine, except he isn’t being challenged, and that’s going to be a problem further down the line. Remember, we didn’t even put him in the French immersion class at his English school; if we had, we might not be having this dilemma now, because he’d be more challenged to begin with!

  3. Lu

    Speaking as an educator, it’s SO important that you recognized that he needs to be involved in some things that come easily and some that challenge him. So often I meet parent or students who absolutely give up at the first sign of a challenge. GO TEAM!

    My parents had the whole immersion / not immersion debate as well. The elementary school that I and my older sister went to was supposed to implement an immersion program starting in the later grades and by the time they realized it wasn’t going to happen, it was too late for us to move schools, and so only my younger sisters got immersion.


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