Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Colossians 1:10

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10

Wait, you're what?

We're in the business of raising autonomous adults NOT children here!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Attending a Korean School

This past year my oldest decided to attend the local Korean elementary school. I think she is the first and only American to attend this school because, when we went down to the school to see if she could attend it, the school staff was confused as to why she would want to attend the Korean school, not the American one. 

We homeschool, so there was no desire to send her to an English speaking school. The entire point of attending a Korean one was to be immersed in the Korean language (and hopefully learn some Korean because of it).

The Korean school year starts in March and ends in February. So, on March 2, 2015, my Little Mama started attending 초등학교 (elementary school in Korean). Being that she did not speak Korea, she was placed in the first grade, though age wise she would have been in the third or fourth grade. Her class consisted of 3 boys and 7 girls, including her. During the year, 1 boy & 1 girl moved and 1 new girl came.

The school year is year round with some breaks scattered throughout. There was a weeklong break the first week of May, then we got 2 weeks of no school due to the MERS that made it an early summer break....summer break was shortened to 2 weeks in August. Out of those 2 weeks, she attended a summer camp at her school for 1 of them (and her little sister joined in for the last day too). There is a winter break for 6 weeks or so too. It goes from late December to after the Lunar New Year. We ended up leaving early since my husband had to return to the States for work for 2.5 months. I mean, really, who wants to spend over 2 months apart from a spouse/Daddy when you have the ability to be together? That said, we decided to return to the States with Daddy. We will miss the end of the school year because we don't return until March.

I am very impressed with how much Korean she has learned during these past 10 months! She can write in Korean. Her spelling test scores are all over the place. Sometimes she gets 70%, even 100% at times, and other times she gets 30%. Truth be told, if she actually studied her spelling words (well, they are more sentences than single words) she would get far more 70-100% than 30%. But, she usually wants to fly through them to be able to go play with her BFFE. I don't mind the "low" grades. I know all the Korean letters and sounds, and, yet, I only got a 20% when I took a spelling test with her class (and 1 got a big fat 0 the last time I took spelling test with her class).

Her teacher truly has been wonderful! She is so kind. Here she is when she came to Little Mama's spring piano recital. She takes the kids outside a lot and they do a lot of arts and crafts.

Originally she went to school full day (Mon, Thurs, Fri 9am-12:50pm and Tues, Wed 9am-1:50pm). It didn't take long for the physical exhaustion to catch up to her. Being immersed in a foreign language is not only mentally exhausting, it causes people to be physically exhausted too. After a month or 2 we scaled back her attendance. Instead of going all day, she went Mon-Fri from 9am to lunch time (anywhere from noon to 12:30pm). This was much less draining on her. I no longer would find her passed out, asleep on the floor or couch.

Her school is small. Maybe 10-15 kids (at most) in each grade. It has grades 1-6, as well as a kindergarten. Maybe from being a small school, or maybe from the priority they place on it, the school seemed to go on field trips often, like every few months or so. My daughter got to go to a strawberry farm, a cherry farm, a safety experience center (simulates an earthquake, a fire and teaches other safety things), Anseong Farm, a boating/farming experience, as well as see a musical. Her school also put together a performance and dinner for the families.

Her teacher was wonderful. Some kids were very nice to her. Other kids were not so nice. The students saw her as "different." She is not Korean. She does not look Korean. She does not speak Korean (much). She does not understand Korean like they do. No one hit her (like I would see some kids doing to each other at various times...and I mean like all-out-cat-fight). Some kids would make fun of her. We don't know exactly what they were saying, but you know when you're being made fun of. The same girl would make fun of my attempts to communicate in Korean too. She would, also, be excluded at times. I think it was a little lonely for her.

Though I don't think she hated her year at school, I would say she is glad to be finished. She had a seizure in October and spent a week out of school. Afterwards she didn't want to return. I had told her at the start of the year that she could stop whenever she wanted (with the assumption that if she didn't like it she would stop after a month and not after people invested so much time into her). When she wanted to stop in October I felt bad. She had gone through most of the year already. We knew we were leaving in mid December, so I persuaded her to stick with it until we left. She did stick with it. She was blessed with a birthday party at school. Her teacher got her an awesome cake. We brought some pizza for the class.

Little Mama's teacher asked if she was going to continue to come to school when we got back in March. Yahaira was hesitant. She told her she didn't want to. Her teacher told her that she writes well, reads well and can understand Korean; she just doesn't speak it well. Her teacher told her to just come back to her class. Little Mama said she'd go twice a week. I think we'll go together. I can help the kids with math and English (and reading Korean...though not understanding most of it), and hopefully my Korean will improve too:)

As much as I've enjoyed seeing my daughter's Korean improve, I am glad this schooling adventure is over. It was tiring having to go pick her up every weekday at noon. It definitely did not make for "lazy" days. It also didn't allow us to really go explore much as a family. The 6 months before attending school, we would go off and explore Korea on day trips without a second thought. After enrolling her in school, our mornings were full and heading to Seoul at 1pm isn't really viable unless we want to eat out for dinner and return at bedtime. Now we'll be able to set out and explore, keeping 2 mornings set aside for improving our Korean. I hope this experience helps her to become a strong, confident person. I hope it helps her to be a friend to all, since she knows what it's like to be the outsider.

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