End of Semester: Kid Round Up

We’re nearing the end of the semester here. Classes were over last week and graduation is Friday at my school. In Taiwan, grades 1-12 usually goes to June 30. We are heading back slightly earlier because tickets are cheaper, it will help me get to a conference, and Sam can catch a camp.

Sam

Sam had a pretty good third grade year. He’s continued on violin (somewhat reluctantly, but more enthusiastically since Eli and Eva started). He did the bear patch in cub scouts. We’ve been involved in two churches this year—Shuanglian and Good Shepherd. The kids call Good Shepherd “the bunny church” because it has rabbits and chickens. I’m gradually getting the sense that they’re all a little older.

Sam’s year at Lih-Jen was good. In the spring we “mainstreamed” him. In practice, he’s not doing the reading/writing homework and Chinese tests, but we’ve found some other materials to use with him and we’re happy with his progress. As I’ve shared here below, the benefit of the bilingual schools is that they sort of split the difference between “full immersion with no life line” and “almost no Chinese.” Public schools tend to have large classes and not many people used to working with non-native speakers and the international schools offer just a few hours of limited Mandarin. At the bilingual schools they do about half of their time in Chinese, including club activities and assemblies and other events. Sam does his music in Chinese and watches movies and can attend church events with me. He’s definitely more comfortable in English but, as I told him, he’s something in between a foreign language learner and a native speaker. He knows intuitively that’s it’s 兩台車 and not 二個車 and his tones are good and he knows a lot of vocab. At the same time, he doesn’t have a home environment in Chinese. He’s excited about fourth grade, although he’s said that the fifth and sixth grade teachers are intense. Emily was happy that his teacher wrote her a note saying Sam’s a good kid and she likes him. We’re grateful for her. Sam will have her for fourth grade, which is great.

Eva and Eli

We successfully were able to register the twins for the school next door. It’s still a little daunting. There will be over 300 first graders with them. At the same time, they seem like they have done really well at their school this year. Eli has a best friend, Wu Canyou, and Eva has a group she gets along with well. Their Chinese is basically native speaker at this point. I don’t know how long they’ll last at public school (1-3 years?), but our thought is that the longer they can stay immersed the better. Eli translates surprisingly well. I asked him what 天才 means and he immediately produced “genius.” It’s interesting to see how each kid is a little different. This semester we’ve also had a teacher’s college-aged daughter come one evening every week or two and do Chinese with Sam and English with Eva and Eli and they all are really coming along. Eva and Eli mix words together, which is cute. They’re a little older than Sam was for their grade and they seem a little farther along so I hope it’s a smooth transition in the fall.

They have also started music with Sam’s teacher. Eva is kind of a dynamo—she’d also been doing short piano lessons at her school. Sam has plugged through book one of Suzuki over a couple of years. It will be interesting to see how the twins do. Right now we bribe them with tablet time if they do music first.

For the summer we have Sam signed up for several camps. The twins are not doing as much because they’re often still under the cut-off age. Sam is doing a presbytery camp, a sports camp, an art camp, and (at the local county park) a horse camp. The twins are both doing a farm camp and Sam and Eli hopefully can do cub scout camp.

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