Tell your children what to expect. Help them to understand that “going to school” means learning another language along with all the other interesting skills they will gain (reading, writing, spelling, etc…).
Explain to your children that they will NOT understand every word their teacher is saying when first entering the immersion classroom. Explain that over time, perhaps without even being aware, they will understand and even begin to use the immersion language themselves. For now, encourage your children to think of the first few weeks of school as a game – observing the teachers and then following their lead.
BE POSITIVE. It is natural for many children to resist leaving you upon beginning school, regardless of whether or not the classroom they enter dual language immersion. Many preschool students cry initially and are perhaps more reserved at school as they process the “newness.” Behaviors such as crying and/or acting shy are often extremely normal responses.
Students who enter the program in kindergarten and first grade may have the same types of responses. Because the brain is “exercising” more, as children initially begin to acquire a second language, many students will cry and adamantly oppose the added “work.” Even students who have begun the program in preschool may struggle in kindergarten and/or first grade, as they adjust to being immersed in their second language for longer periods of time.
Your positive attitude will make a huge difference to your children. Immersion students observe their parents’ responses to the program and eventually adjust their attitudes accordingly. Students who receive regular encouragement and assurance from their parents that learning a second language in an immersion setting is the right choice for their family, ALWAYS settle into the program.
The same children who resist an immersion experience at the beginning are often the ones who are vocally grateful for their ability to speak a second language in the higher grade levels.