Yu Ming Charter School - Kindergarten


My son just got accepted to Yu Ming for Kindergarten. He is a typical, rambunctious, almost 5 year old boy coming out of a play-based Spanish immersion pre-school. I'm concerned that this program might be too rigorous academically for him. Can anyone with an average, non-Mandarin speaking child tell me about their experience at this school ?


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Hi!  The same thing happened to us last year.  My twins got accepted to Yu Ming in K and had been going to EBI (a Spanish immersion pre-school) for 2 years.  We were set on keeping them there until we got into Yu Ming (free!) and had to try it.  I was worried about the language transition, but honestly, going to EBI really prepared them for Yu Ming - they weren't surprised when the teachers didn't speak English, they were used to being spoken to in a foreign language.  To them the transition was surprisingly easy.  I think the hardest transition was from me, because I loved the EBI parents so much, but the kids transitioned very easily.  It was also good because EBI is a bigger school, so they were used to going to a school with big classrooms and older children around.

My son is more outgoing, talkative and rambunctious and is very happy at YM.  My daughter is more timid and is also happy there.  My recommendation is to go!  Good luck and congrats for winning the lottery!  Lmk if you have any other questions.

I babysit for a kindergartener attending Yu Ming.  She comes from an English speaking family and she loves going to school.  She came from a play-based preschool and had no problem with the transition.  While there is a little work sent home to do, it shouldn't be more than an hour a week total spread over 7 days and could easily be done in 10 minutes a day.  The kids are encouraged to use apps at home that re-enforce their Mandarin learning.  I'm very impressed by what I hear.

I was worried for my girl as she is shy but she fits in well with both the English speaking kids and those who are primarily Mandarin speaking.   The kindergarten class sounds like any typical class: they do art work for all major holidays, read books in a circle, and play games as a class for PE.  I only wish I had an opportunity such as this when I was in school.

My children are in the upper school now and we are non-mandarin speakers (though both kids came into Yu Ming speaking Mandarin from preschool). Overall, I would not recommend Yu Ming for anyone other than very academically oriented and possibly heritage families. It has been a disaster for one of my children, who was an extremely bright, but rambunctious boy who doesn't fit the high expectations for conformity that Yu Ming has from the parents and teachers. There is a lot of lean on parents to make sure their child is working through worksheets and in the early years there is a large bet on "they will catch up" in English. Overall, the school does well because it has largely well off and high achieving families. Families that do not have the resources to succeed or kids that need academic help to keep up are largely left with responsibility for their own learning, which is compounded by the Mandarin immersion aspect when your family is a non-speaker. 

One of my children is doing great, one of my children has had at this point traumatic experiences to his self esteem and education. It really doesn't have as much to do with the Mandarin immersion curriculum as the culture of the school and the fact that it is a charter and the easiest way to remove kids who don't fit is to let them go unsupported and eventually they will leave. There is a lot of attrition in the upper grades. Yu Ming loves to point to the numbers for average state scores, but the reality is that Yu Ming's population does not represent the make up of the community and it doesn't deal with families/kids who are not already primed for success.  However, it can be a unique opportunity to have the second language for certain kind of bright, low-need kid.

If I were choosing again, I would not send my child to Yu Ming, but to a traditional public school. The immersion aspect wasn't worth the experience of either of my children and their relationship to learning and education as a result.