Hello NRP parents/guardians! We hope the school year is getting off to a great start.
We’re reaching out to gauge your interest in a Mandarin-immersion after-school care program for students enrolled at NRP school. If this is not of interest to you, feel free to stop reading now. Otherwise, read on!
Our son just started kindergarten at NRP. While English is our home language, our son has learned some Mandarin in bilingual daycare and by interacting with his grandparents. We are keen to continue his daily social Mandarin exposure so he doesn’t forget what he’s learned — and hopefully expands his skills over time. Luckily, Vancouver and NRP school are amazingly well-suited to activities that support Mandarin language development! It’s our hope that some other parents would also love to expose their kids to Mandarin in a play-based setting, especially one that also serves as after-school care.
The immersive, play-based after-school program we envision would, like a YMCA Kids Club or UBC after-school program, run daily from 3pm to 6pm with paid adult supervision and little formal pedagogical content. The only “rule” would be that the play and communication to and between the children take place in Mandarin. We aim to rent space from NRP and manage this formally as an after-school program: establishing a non-profit, taking out insurance, hiring qualified Mandarin-speaking staff (NRP parents, please let us know if any of you would be interested — we imagine that there are ideal candidates in the parent pool), and building a small team of dedicated parents who can administer the program with the goal of continuing it next year and beyond.
This program would be inclusive – welcoming children without Mandarin experience. But in order for the program to be effective without formal language instruction, the ratio of children with Mandarin-speaking experience to those without would have to be quite high (80%+). We expect to achieve this ratio organically, however, if we are wrong, a lottery for spots for children without Mandarin experience may be held.
Reasons why you might consider enrolling your child in this program:
1. Even if Mandarin is the first language in your home: We know from personal experience and anecdotal evidence that many children quickly rebel against (or lose interest in using) their native/home/first language after starting in an English-language school. Providing a daily social environment where children play and interact in Mandarin helps to normalize the language, and reduces the likelihood of your child losing interest in their mother tongue.
2. If your child speaks little or no Mandarin: Children, particularly at the K-2 age range, are remarkably plastic – as we parents see daily! – and in a full immersion environment (with native speakers and encouraged by supervision to converse in Mandarin) can pick up the spoken language naturally and quickly. Also, English and Mandarin are arguably the two most important languages for children to be exposed to and learn today in order to be best prepared for the future.
Thanks for taking the time to read about our idea. If you are interested, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. In your email, please let us know about the likelihood and timeline of enrolling your child, and if you’re interested in helping with any program administration (establishing the non-profit, accountancy and tax filings, or working part- or full-time to supervise the program). Although we’ve already had some success identifying staff, we’d still appreciate recommendations for Mandarin-speaking paid program staff (e.g., yourself or family members, a nanny/babysitter who might enjoy working with more kids, people with activities/teaching backgrounds, etc). General feedback about the idea is welcome too!
Thanks again for your time,
Frank & Donna