As we have mentioned before, my kids are attending a local school. We were incredibly lucky to get a slot only a few weeks before school started and the longer we are here, we have realized how lucky we are. Their school is easily one of the top schools in the area and many people say it is in the top 2.
At their school, they each take a long list of classes:
Arabic Science (4th and up)
Did I mention that they are in 2nd and 4th grade?
These classes are taught on a schedule a bit like college. Each day they have different classes in a different order. Some classes meet multiple times a week (Arabic Science) or even every day (English). Others meet just once (Computer Science).
Through this experience I have ENORMOUS respect for parents of my ESL students. I feel like hunting all my former parents down and apologizing. If someone had asked me, I would have said that I was considerate of their needs. Yet, I think I was just lost in how difficult this really is.
The trickiest part is the notes home.
At least once a week I get a note home in Arabic. The scary ones are the ones that have a date or need a signature. It is really hard to get a note translated in less than 24 hours. I have to catch someone at home or send a picture to one of my students back home (two of my girls: Halla and Maha have been very helpful)! Google Translate supports English to Arabic with their camera function, but not Arabic to English. I think about all the things that are sent home with my kids in the US: asking for snacks for special activities, 100 things on the 100th day of school, parent readers, etc. A lot of times the kids don’t even know what the note was about.
I was bouncing around how we could help American parents with this. Why couldn’t we as teachers connect parents with a parent “buddy” like we do classroom buddies? Someone that would call/text/email with updates on things that are happening in class? Or maybe train the room mother to contact ESL parents “special” to make sure that they feel involved? Just ideas.
Homework is the other big thing that is difficult. This is the homework paper:
So, yeah…. We are pretty good about doing the English homework. The rest of it is difficult. But not always because we don’t know how to do it. Dan showed up to the parent conference for Will on the 3rd week we were here and the teachers were frustrated because Will wasn’t doing his homework. He said he would talk to him. Then we had to figure out what the homework was! Some of the things on the paper are the topics for class that week; some are the assignments. It is confusing to figure out which is which.
Plus my kids get lackadaisical because the teachers don’t make them do all of the assignments in class. They don’t always realize which things they should do and which they can skip!
On top of this, my kids have two parents who get “how school works.” If you have never been a teacher or it has been a long time since you have been around kids in school you won’t be able to guess what is going on as easily….
I could say a lot more. But I think I will save some of my musings for later.