Sylvia Mendez Kinder experience for native Spanish speakers?

Hi SM parents,

I was wondering if anyone has any feedback/insights on the experiences of Kindergarteners who are native Spanish speakers?  We are considering SM but wonder if our daughter, a native speaker, will find her Spanish enriched?  Or will she merely tread water as the non-Spanish speakers get up to speed?  The school seems very appealing - they have to truly thread a needle (sounds like they do a pretty decent job) between non-speakers and native speakers.

Any thoughts welcomed...many thanks!

P.S.: I am setting aside the "will we get in" questions for now...!

Parent Replies

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The teachers have to differentiate instruction, and Spanish language ability is one factor among many that affects how well a child will perform. In my experience at a public immersion school in Oakland, socioeconomic status is more indicative of how well a child will perform than home language. Assuming your child does not already read, she will be learning alongside all the other children, and she may or may not excel. Young children learn to speak languages so much more quickly than adults that it's not as much of an issue as you might imagine.

My children were not native Spanish speakers but from what I have seen at SM, the Spanish-dominant, bilingual, and English-only-at-home kids are learning right alongside each other from K through 5. None of the kindergarteners seemed bored to me, though any kids who already know how to read or write (in either language) will be ahead and possibly less enriched during certain lessons. But the teachers don't spend time just teaching Spanish. They teach the alphabet, reading, writing, math, it just happens to be in Spanish (and they throw in a fair bit of English in K to make sure the English-only kids know what's going on). I do think immersion schools like SM will enrich a native speaker's Spanish because they will be exposed to so much more vocabulary in the classroom and from all the school books. This is even more true in later grades as they become truly biliterate, which is something that only going to school in two languages can do well. It's a great school and I think they do a great job with the immersion curriculum. And if your daughter is bilingual (or especially if she is Spanish-dominant), I would bet she would get in.

Many thanks for both replies!  Both helpful insights.