Can't get my son in French Immersion School where I'm moving

Ariana - posted on 10/02/2014 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Hi! I am moving and the French Immersion schools in my childs area are all full atm! My sons home school would also be the French Immersion school he'd be attending but it is full. If he doesn't get into it this year he isn't going to be allowed in next year.

I really believe it's important for him to be in FI. I understand kids do just fine through the English stream but I also think it's important to be bilingual and it will help him in the future. I'm just really frustrated that basically his whole education will be altered because I moved to an area that is already out of space in the program. I didn't live here last year so there was no possible way for me to get him onto the list on time.

I don't know what my options are, I tried also calling some other schools in the area but I do not own a car so I can only get there via public transit. Even so the spots in other schools are also full. I'd even try to get someone to go in with him to provide an extra person if they'd let me but I don't have the money for that or I'd just put him in a French Daycare.

Anyway, thought I would put that out there to see if there was any advice on what I could do.

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Chet - posted on 10/03/2014

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I've never known a French Immersion school in Canada to have a cancellation list after school started. The have intake points. If you miss an intake you're usually out of luck because FI schools don't have any resources to catch kids up if they join the program six months, or a year or two in.

If your child was already fluent and didn't need to be caught up you might have a chance. Again though, I've never known an FI school in English speaking Canada to have the resources to test and place incoming children. Unless a child came from a French school, or another French immersion program, with documentation that they were at the right level I think your odds would be really low.

I've also known of FI schools that count on a certain percentage of children dropping out of the program to get the class size down to where they'd like it to be. They assure parents that yes, the kindergarten class is really big, but things will be better by grade 1 or 2.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/03/2014

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Ariana, another angle may be a 'waiting list' (or cancellation list)...would it be worth it to see if you could get on one? (If you haven't already thought of that, that is...)

Chet - posted on 10/03/2014

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Do you live in Manitoba? I keep hearing stories like this from people in Manitoba!

Contact Canadian Parents for French to see what programs they offer in your area, and if they may be able to advocate for your son in some way:

http://cpf.ca/en/

Research the French Immersion options on your school board, or school boards you might be able to move into at some point in the future. French Immersion starts at lots of different grades in Canada. I've seen programs starting in kindergarten, grade 1, grade 4, grade 5 and grade 7 depending on the province and the school board, and many boards offer two (or even three) start points.

It won't be too late if your son starts French Immersion in grade 4 or grade 7 if you find a program that offers entry later on. All of the research about the benefits of learning a second language from a very early age applies to learning it from native speakers in a natural environment. French Immersion schools generally produce the same quality of French in the end. When you look at students coming out of grade 12 the ones who started French Immersion in kindergarten or grade 1 have the same level of French as those who started in grade 5 or 7.

If you want to buy Rosetta Stone watch for a promotion. They have a lot of discounts.

Guest - posted on 10/02/2014

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Sorry, I know it isn't really what you were looking for. I don't know a lot about the school system in Canada, as I am in the US. Unfortunately, here, and it sounds like there as well, once the program is full there is no way to get in. We actually have people camp out in front of the schools for up to a week before registration here because they fill up so fast. I think the programs should be available to all students, but they aren't.

I do not speak Spanish very well either, but I am learning with him. I am fortunate to have a very flexible career which allows me to work with him on it each day after school, and take him to the homeschool classes....I do realize that is a luxury. I found the homeschooling groups by searching online for my area, then networking within those groups in real life. It wasn't easy, but it was doable.

Ariana - posted on 10/02/2014

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I'm in Canada so they have French Immersion programs since French is one of our official languages so I feel he should be able to get access to an education in French. If we simply didn't make the proper date of registration that would be my fault but we didn't live in this district and I didn't know I would be (or where I would be) moving to last year so there's no way I could have applied to register him last year for this school.

I will look into the home-schooling options in the area although I'm not sure where I would go for that. I know I can get Rosetta Stone or try to get tutoring but all of that costs money I don't really have and I feel with real life stresses and obligations I won't be able to assist him to learn it properly. I also cannot speak French very well at all so I will not be much assistance to him in keeping it in his head.

Thank you for your advice, it isn't really what I want but if I can't get him in I suppose that's what I'll have to do. It just seems like somewhere should have a space available for children who move in. I don't think, 'well we're full' is a good enough but I don't see any action I can take either.

Guest - posted on 10/02/2014

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I completely agree with you! In most first world countries, all elementary schools begin teaching a second language early on, but the US only a few select schools in each area do it, and they fill up FAST!

In my area, the only Immersion programs are German and Spanish. I wanted him to do the Spanish because we have German speaking friends, and I feel he can pick that up on his own later--once a child masters one second language, picking up additional languages later on is much easier for them. Anyway, the Spanish Immersion program was not at a good school--bad social problems with bullying and violence, low standardized test scores, poor parent participation, etc. So I was faced with giving up a really great school without Immersion to send him to a sub par school with Immersion, or staying at the great school and creating my own Immersion program. This is what we did.

I purchased the Rosetta Stone Spanish Curriculum....it was pricey in my opinion, but it is REALLY proving to be worth every penny! I highly recommend it. After he does his regular homework every evening, we do a Spanish lesson.
In addition to that, I contacted several local Homeschooling groups. Though I am not a homeschooler, they were very welcoming and willing to help me out. They helped me find a homeschooling group that was teaching Spanish as a second language through Language Arts Immersion, and that met outside of regular school hours. There, he can interact with other people who are both learning and speaking fluently in Spanish once a week. The homeschooling group is a free co-op set up where the parents in the group teach different subjects in which they have strengths--so if you suck at math, your kid doesn't suffer just because you are homeschooling him. They were willing to allow us to participate for free despite the fact that I wasn't teaching anything myself or going to the other groups, but I wanted to contribute so I offered to buy some school supplies and the like for them. If the homeschooling groups are hesitant, you can offer to make some sort of contribution, but my experience has been overwhelmingly positive with them.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/02/2014

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Are you in a French speaking country? Or are you in and English speaking country and simply want your son to be bilingual?

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