Dear Annie: Our 4-year-old will be in pre-kindergarten in the fall. His elementary school offers a Spanish immersion program, and we can’t decide whether to enroll him in it. The program was one of the things that influenced our decision to buy a house in this area. But now that decision time is here, we’re having second thoughts.
His school day would be 80 percent taught in Spanish. In the class, there would be 10 kids who speak Spanish at home and 10 kids who, like my son, don’t speak any Spanish.
My wife and I value the ability to speak a second language, and starting this early, our son might be able to speak as well as a native speaker. But it would be a huge commitment. The school expects people who commit in pre-kindergarten to stay in the program through fifth grade, and it’s now or never; he couldn’t start in the future. That is scary for us. We don’t really know our son’s learning style or whether this would be a good fit for him. And he’d be with the same 19 kids for seven years. What if he were not to get along with them? — Una Pregunta
Dear Pregunta: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will beget a lifetime of further opportunities. Being bilingual is a bigger asset than ever in today’s globalized society (and increasingly competitive job market). Learning a foreign language has been shown to build multitasking skills, improve memory, make students more perceptive, hone decision-making skills and do so much more. I think you’d regret not trying this program out much more than you’d ever regret trying it.
See whether you can talk to some of the parents of the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who are in the program. Get a sense of the workloads and how children like the tightknit learning environment. Ask parents what they wish they had known when going into it. Whatever you decide, it’s clear that you and your wife care deeply about your son’s education, so I have no doubt he’ll turn out just fine.
Dear Annie: A fellow churchgoer doesn’t like to drive, so she always asks others to pick her up for church, take her to visit her father in the nursing home, shuttle her to the grocery, etc., etc. She lives 30 minutes out of the way for most of us, and she has a car and a license. She never offers to pay for gas, leaving some of us feeling taken advantage of. Should we just put our frustration aside and try to show some Christian love, or can we help her understand that others don’t want to be taken advantage of? —Feeling Used
Dear Feeling Used: Just because she has a license doesn’t mean she should be driving, and if she feels uncomfortable or unsafe driving, then good for her for making the very smart decision to get help. However, that help needn’t be from friends or congregation members every single time. Many community-based transportation services exist for seniors. An excellent database is available from AAA at http://seniordriving.aaa.com/local-transportation-programs. The most generous thing would be to help her help herself by getting her plugged in to some resources.
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