Note: all images of the school’s exterior have been altered to obscure the city and school name for safety’s sake.
Yesterday we had Ren’s Kindergarten orientation.
These pictures outside the school don’t show how nervous he was but the ones inside sure do as you’ll see below! Ren is a master of body language, I must say.
There are two English / Mandarin bilingual classes and we were thrilled to see that Ren ended up in the same one as our friend Sun. I was planning to ask for that arrangement but I hadn’t yet as I didn’t think they were grouping the kids already. When the kids found out, Sun gave Ren a big hug.
Ren’s nerves really showed as he waited to be called into the class line-up.
Once called into line, his nervousness continued. He kept peering forward, looking at Sun who had been called into line quite a bit earlier.
And then the moment that he dreaded: following the teacher, along with the other kids, to the Kindergarten rooms. Without Mom.
Not exactly the picture of confidence, huh?
The parents were asked to stay behind in the gym and go over a few details with the principal while the teachers settled the kids into the rooms. By the time I got to the classroom, Ren was looking much more comfortable. He even raised his hand once to answer the teacher’s question!
The teacher then had them colour / decorate a colouring page. Ren proceeded to “pack” a little lunch for himself in the backpack on the page. He drew cheese and a juice box, among other things!
By the time the kids were ushered into the English classroom (there are two classrooms that they alternate between on a weekly basis), Ren was looking more confident. In fact, after a little exercise when the kids were called back to sit together on the carpet, Ren looked back and me and said, “I’m getting used to this now!”
I have to say, I was very proud of my little Ren. He sat and listened so attentively and always remembered to raise his hand to answer questions. He was one of the few who remembered, so he was called on twice in the English class! And one answer was a long one! He offered the entire line from the Gingerbread Boy: “Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man”.
Ren has done wonderfully at his preschool, an early intervention program, this past year, and I can see that he has grown in leaps and bounds. I attribute a lot of his success to the environment in his early ed class. It was the right mix of kids, teachers and specialists that made him feel safe and comfortable and allowed him to thrive. I feel very fortunate that this program was available to us. I don’t know where we would be if we hadn’t had this level of assistance for Ren’s speech.
He still has a severe speech delay (“moderate severe”, compared to being “severe” in the beginning of the year) but now, he is able to make many more consonant sounds. As a result, it’s much easier to understand him even if things don’t come out quite right. He has always talked a lot at home – pretty much non-stop! – but in public he had always been very quiet. Not so much anymore! As his speech clarity has improved, he has grown in confidence. When I saw him raise his hand and respond to the teacher’s questions during orientation, I could have just burst with happiness for him.
We had laboured over the decision whether to enroll him in the same program as Claire – the Mandarin / English bilingual program. However, we ultimately decided to at least try it for Kindergarten (we could always switch him to the English-only stream at the school later). Our reasoning and that of our therapists was that his language (i.e. vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, etc) is good. His only difficulty is in the clarity of his speech, which will be challenging no matter the langauge, be it English, Mandarin, French or whatever. I still worry about how his performance will be judged when it comes to oral things but again, that is the worry whether the class is in English or Mandarin. So, we shall see. In the meantime, we’ll continue with therapy and will hopefully continue to see the kind of improvement Ren made this past year.
In other Ren news, we enrolled him yesterday for classical guitar for the fall! I found a studio nearby that teachs young children guitar using the Suzuki method that we prefer. We met his new teacher yesterday and assessed what size guitar he will need. He is pumped! As much as I am looking forward to the summer, it’s exciting to look forward to all the new beginnings in the fall.