How much Spanish is enough Spanish for Sylvia Mendez incomingTK?

Hello --

My kiddo is slated to start transitional kindergarden at Sylvia Mendez in August 2020, assuming that Berkeley public schools are open. I'm curious to connect with more Sylvia Mendez parents, and struggling to figure out how -- is there a Facebook group for Sylvia Mendez parents? A way to join an incoming parents listserve? I emailed the school admin, and was given the link to the Bloomz app, which I signed up for, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of parent conversation.

We speak English at home, but our kiddo has been in Spanish-immersion preschool for two years. He's Spanish is so-so -- his English is waaaay better. I'm concerned that he is rapidly losing his Spanish during Shelter in Place/Covid-19. I'm trying to do a few things at home -- videos, activity books, ect. but he is fairly uninterested. I don't understand what happens if his Spanish actually isn't "good enough" for the two way immersion program -- even though he was "assessed" back in January and got in.

Would love to connect with families who are at Sylvia Mendez and speak English at home -- how do you organize/help your kid with their Spanish homework? I really value the opportunity of bilingual education and want to do what I can to support him, and I also don't want him to feel like he is drowning, or holding back other kids/families. Thank you in advance!

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You really don't need to worry about how much Spanish your child knows. Typically one third of incoming kindergarteners come in with zero-to-almost-zero Spanish. It's hard on a few but most just roll with it and all do fine after the first couple months. If your child is going into the Spanish TK (recently there has been 1 Spanish and 1 English class where the students in the English classes usually end up at other schools for K but the Spanish TK class continues on to K at Sylvia Mendez) he might not be as strong in Spanish as others, but he won't be the weakest either since a few of the kids will be coming from English-only homes (they get in because they have siblings in older grades--I'm almost positive that's how it works). TK is really low-stress and I'm sure he'll be fine. Definitely the bigger wild-card here is what school will look like in the fall.

For homework, it's pretty much just reading through 3rd grade. They have SUPER easy learn-to-read books you can read to them until they can do it. You sound pretty motivated so if you do a couple hours of an app yourself to learn the pronunciation (assuming you are Spanish-naive) you'll be fine. You might get some math sent home starting in K or 1st (usually classwork they don't finish) and then it might be hard to understand the Spanish instructions (and the fact they teach math differently now) but it's Engage NY which is free online and I think some motivated parents have been able to find the English versions of all the worksheets online. The more awkward thing for Spanish-naive families is the community reading in the morning (I think TK, K and some 1st grade classes do this) where parents read to their child and any other interested child for 15 min after drop off, work schedule permitting (many parents just do a couple days per week, many do none). I thought my Spanish was strong until I tried reading some of the medium hard story books and realized my vocabulary is weak. I think they're OK with you reading in English, too (but I seem to remember all the books being in Spanish). You know the story--just read, read, read to your child. My kids learned to read in English on their own (after learning in Spanish at school) because we read to them in English so much. A teacher at the school told me it's a "gift" to learn to read in Spanish because it makes so much more sense than English and I agree! Don't be surprised if they don't teach them to actually read in TK--they may or may not, I'm not sure what they do (we didn't do TK) but I think they don't want them to be bored in K. You didn't solicit this particular advice, but I'd say don't rush and just let your TK goal for your child be to like school (or whatever it is in the fall). Academics come later!

For connection, there is a Facebook page but it's not active for parents. Bloomz is your best bet. Usually there is a K play date before school starts, which is a good time to meet other families and get your child used to the space. I think the family engagement coordinator organizes it (they school might give you her contact info) but COVID changes everything. Maybe by August it will be OK. 

Bottom line--don't worry about the Spanish. I think sometimes kids come in at 1st grade with no Spanish (special circumstances) and they do fine, too. 

Thank you! This is really helpful!