I feel really bad for Charlie

Charlie had a good first day, a not so good second day and a horrible, screaming, crying, not wanting to leave the house third and fourth day of school.

She doesn’t want to talk to friends at school (and there are a bunch of REALLY friendly girls that keep trying to hang out with her). She doesn’t want to learn Italian. She doesn’t want to be in Italy. And she REALLY REALLY doesn’t want to go to school.

I was up fretting last night and woke up early wondering what to do. We found a tutor but she’s just given up. On one hand she’s really hating it and making a point of NOT learning, so how much can/should we force it. On the other hand if she gives up now, I don’t know if she’ll go back to public school and she’s not going to learn Italian by staying home with me all day and she’s not going to have any Italian friends and she’s going to have a miserable year.

(Oh and if she stays home, Ian will cry and complain until we leave him home too, so there’s a big part of the equation which fairly or unfairly isn’t even about her.)

She really dislikes being “different” or “standing out” in any way. The way she makes friends is she quietly and shyly finds someone and engages them in storytelling. Then she steps up as a leader and directs the play.

All hard to do when you don’t know the language. It doesn’t help that schools they’re in don’t have any sort of support for non-Italian speakers. There’s no specialist, or program, or curriculum… it’s just every teacher for themselves and even in elemetary school the kids have half a dozen different teachers, many of whom don’t speak any English.

None of the kids have learned anything/much. Tristan has probably learned more Italian than any of the kids and he’s not in school yet. He’s excited to go and “do his Doulingo” (not really Doulingo, but instead iPad flashcards). He knows his numbers and isn’t shy about talking (our one extrovert in the family).

Max just thinks it’s funny. I mean he has a Spanish class, in Italian! That’s pretty funny. They just actually sent him back a year… so he’s doing “middle school grade 1” instead of “middle school grade 2”, and there are other non-native speakers in his grade, and they’re looking at getting him some extra attention.

Ian doesn’t like that one of his teachers just shouts at him in Italian and bangs her desk and keeps calling him Mark instead of Ian and doesn’t seem to understand that he doesn’t know Italian, but he has a couple of good teachers too, they asked if he’d be there all year and we said yes, so they’re going to find some assignments for Kindergarteners and give them to him so he has stuff he can do.

SO, what are we doing about it

  • We’ve told the kids that if they try it for 3 months and don’t like it, we’ll home-school them.
  • We’ve got a full time tutor for Charlie for at *least* the next few weeks. 
  • The tutor can’t make it tomorrow (yes school on Saturday, but it’s out by 1PM every day), so we’re letting Charlie have a “home-school day”. Part of our goal is to make sure she works a LOT and understands “home school” doesn’t mean “read all day”. Ian (and maybe Max) will likely stay home too. This totally might backfire… but we’ll see.
  • Christine’s doing Italian lessons at home.
  • Ian conjugated a bunch of irregular verbs and they’re hanging in the bathroom.
  • And we’re focusing on Ian’s birthday today!

What do I wish we did differently?

  • More Italian language in the states for everyone. We all burned out on it, and were focused on Visas and work and track season and (in the case of the kids) just enjoying the summer and reading a lot of books.
  • I think we could have predicted this a little more in Charlie’s case. She had similar problems in Kindergarten and when she started Hilltown (to a lesser degree). It was really important to her that she get ALL the right supplies so she’s not different than the other students. I’m not sure how much we could have done differently, except maybe forcing language lessons a little more though and making her practice talking them to people.
  • Faster playdates with kids in the class would have helped… Like after the second day some one-on-one time with some of the english speakers in her class.

Not much else. I mean while we could have guess *some* of these the only way to have avoided it would have been to have moved to an English speaking country (or not moved at all), and well… that’s just not as much fun.

In the meanwhile we’re still looking for a school for Tristan (he’s learning some Italian through us, but really needs to hang out with kids his age, and we/I need a break)… and getting ready for Ian’s B-Day today (getting Sushi and then going to see Minions in Italian!)