”They’ll speak English within a month,” ”kids adjust easily,” “kids are flexible” people reassured me about my children’s move from Denmark to San Francisco: It’s a common belief that children adjust quickly and painlessly to a new country and a new language.
I knew different having spent four traumatizing years in a French Elementary School. I knew that parental support and school choice would devise not only their transition, but also their happiness. Based on my experiences, I believed that by picking the right schools and standing by my children’s side I could spare them from an agonizing transition. It turned out that I couldn’t. And that identifying a preschool in San Francisco matching my Danish approach to early childhood education was a task, where I failed.
I based my quest for the right preschool pretty much the same way I searched for the right elementary school: online reviews, conversations, and correspondence with parents and schools. And when there was a match, together with my husband, we toured the schools asking the following questions: “What was their experience with children with English as a second language;” “how strongly did they feel about discipline and academics; “what were their thoughts about how we could help our children through the transition;” “how did they feel about me staying for a longer period of time in the classroom”. Speaking English fluently, having watched tons of American shows and movies as well as having read articles on the American educational system, I thought that I had an idea of what to expect.
… It turned out that I didn’t.