High demand for dual-language learning | VailDaily.com

High demand for dual-language learning

Nicole Frey
NWS Edwards Ele.1 SM 2-24

EDWARDS – Half a dozen pre-schoolers buzzed around the bright kindergarten classroom fascinated – as all children are – by someone else’s toys. They played dress up, cooked imaginary food and stacked blocks. Some made new friends while others opted for solitary recreation. “Two more minutes, and then we’re going to clean up,” announced kindergarten teacher Erika Donahue.”I always clean up,” answered Ripley Stone from the miniature, plastic stove top where he wielded a little, plastic frying pan. Usually responsible for kindergartners at Edwards Elementary School, Donahue took on a younger set of children for a week as part of Kindergarten Roundup. Parents of incoming kindergartners were invited to visit Edwards Elementary with their children. While parents were schooled on the inner workings of the school’s dual-language program, the children were tested on their fine motor skills, social aptitude and academics – all disguised as play, of course. Little did they know that drawing self portraits would tell educators about how the youngsters viewed themselves – whether they had good self esteem, were shy or outgoing. Watching the children interact, Donahue will be able to form balanced classes of kindergartners who work well together.But the sad truth is not all who apply to Edwards Elementary’s dual-language kindergarten program will be accepted, said Emily Larson, the school’s grant coordinator. With more applicants than spots, the school is forced to accept children by hosting a lottery drawing, but she added some families are applying to multiple schools, and may chose to go elsewhere. Todd and Paige Putnam signed up their son Logan for kindergarten when he was 3. They’ve applied to every school, but hope to get into Edward’s Elementary.”There’s a North American trend toward being bilingual,” Todd Putnam said. “It’s going to be a part of their world.”While the dual-language program was a hard sell at first, it’s popularity has exploded leaving parents anxious to get their children in. “I’m very frustrated. Every list has 300 kids on it,” said Diane Ehrlich, mother of 4-year-old twins Alexis and Jordan. “I feel like I’m caught up in a nightmare. This is our neighborhood school, and we might not get in.”

Parents also asked questions about how the school caters to gifted children and how dual-language students perform compared to students from monolingual schools. Larson said national studies show dual-language students do as well or better than their monolingual counterparts. Hatsie Hinmon, a literacy teacher at Edwards Elementary, told parents that one of the best things they can do before kindergarten starts is to read to their children. But parents remained concerned about getting their kids into Edwards Elementary. Hinmon smiled and told them about how her kids had hopped from school to school around the county and had been very successful in school.”Relax, enjoy, it’ll work out,” she said. “Every kid goes home feeling really successful.”======================Full-day vs. half-day kindergarten While some parents debate half-day kindergarten vs. full-day kindergarten, Tom and Paige Putnam always knew they wanted a full-day class for their son Logan, who will enter kindergarten in the fall.”I’m just used to full-day,” said Paige Putnam, originally from North Carolina. “I assume they would learn more in full-day.”But giving Logan a full day of schooling is going to cost the Putnams. In Colorado, the state only pays for half-day kindergarten, leaving the parents to foot the rest of the bill if they want a longer school day. The rub is that there isn’t any transportation for half-day kindergartners. It will cost parents $250 per month for a full day of kindergarten. There are also scholarship programs that will reduce the fee to $110 per month, and if your child qualifies for subsidized lunches, he also qualifies for a $55 per month tuition for full-day kindergarten. All kindergarten classes in Eagle County are full-day. Attendance in the full-time program isn’t required, but highly recommended as students who attend full-time kindergarten are more successful in school, according to research done by Eagle County Schools.

Students who are 5-years-old by Oct. 1 can enroll in kindergarten for the 2006/2007 school year. ============================================Please call the school to make and appointment for upcoming Kindergarten Roundup dates. Eagle Valley ElementaryMonday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 22328-6981Gypsum Elementary

Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5328-8940Red Hill ElementaryTuesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 13328-8970Red Sandstone ElementaryTuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12328-2910

Meadow Mountain ElementaryWednesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 20328-2940Avon ElementaryWednesday, April 26, and Thursday, April 27328-2950=======================Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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