Deciding on sending your child to bilingual education can be tough, but having choices of schools is even tougher. (Photo by bloomsberries)

SpanglishBaby: Is bilingual kindergarten right for us?

I am lucky enough to be in a public school district with a 90/10 bilingual immersion program from K-5, and growing. The district currently offers a Mandarin and Spanish program, and is about to expand the Spanish program to a second elementary school. Because my daughter will be eligible for kindergarten in Fall 2013, this Fall has been spent touring our public, charter, and private options. It’s been exhausting and eye-opening.

With preschool we were lucky enough to find the “perfect” place which met all our priorities — diverse, play-based, holistic, small, affordable, and in a natural setting. They even include Spanish throughout the day, although it is not a “bilingual” program per se. It’s run by teachers and a director who truly love the children they care for and clearly enjoy every day with them. It is really a place that our entire family loves.

For kindergarten, we have come to realize that we will have to pick which of our priorities we are willing to sacrifice and pick the “good enough” school rather than focus on finding the “perfect school.”

There is no private Spanish bilingual elementary school in our area, so even if we could afford a private school, we would have to sacrifice a bilingual education and for the most part, racial diversity. These schools have been the most progressive in terms of philosophy — they understand that children learn through play and while there are desks in these schools, student have ample time to move around, play, and spend time outdoors. These schools have lovely music, art and science programs. They tend to be on pretty campuses and include many enriching field trips.

There is no Spanish bilingual charter school in our area either. While there are two excellent and fairly progressive charters nearby, again, bilingualism is not a part of their curriculum. We are entering these lotteries, knowing they are a long shot, but hoping that we might have one of these as an option.

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