As many know, I am a big fan of German. I lived there, I studied it, I taught it, I love it! I'm sure I would feel the same way about Spanish, French, Japanese, etc if I had any experience with any of those. I just love the doors it opens when you know another language. You get to really understand other cultures, other viewpoints, other people when you speak their native tongue. Ever since the Bubbs was born, we've been speaking German in our home. I was the most consistent when it was just the Bubbs, because DH traveled a ton and it was just us. With the Simster we already had more English in our home from nursery, play dates, etc and I wasn't as good. Now with PJ, she is really getting 80-85% German at home and understands and speaks both.
Before we even moved to Texas, I had done some research and found out there was a German Samstagschule (Saturday school) in Dallas! I was thrilled because I hadn't found something like that in Utah, and I really wanted the kids to experience German with native speakers and other kids, then they would know it wasn't just crazy Mom's language :)
The youngest class was 4- and 5-year-olds, so we decided to start the Bubbs this semester. She LOVED it!!! She looked forward to it every week! Many of the kids in her class knew less German than she knows, and a few of them with native German parents, knew a lot more. It was hard for the teachers to tell how much she knows because she is by nature really shy (I know, where the heck did she get that from?) and didn't say much. But she ended up with a few good friends (including a little boy who always wanted to share her chair and sit by her... cute!)
They played games, worked on their letters and writing words, sang songs... you know, the basic preschool stuff but all in German. She had two cute young teachers - die Atika and die Laura - and they tried to really speak just German in class, even if some of the kids were still learning. They had two special events during the semester - the first was a big play/production to honor the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (this is E's part - doing a traditional dance, sorry she's so hard to see)
...and they had a St Martins Umzug (a St Martin's parade) to honor the German holiday of St Martin. The kids all made Laterne (lanterns) and we carried them in a little parade at a park, singing the Laterne songs and getting eaten alive by mosquitos :)
She almost cried last week because it was the last week, and I know that the experience was a great one for her. It was out of her comfort zone and she had to make new friends, and she spoke in German and she heard lots of other kids/adults speaking in German. I was actually amazed at how much she adored it!
Now the big question - will we do it next semester (starting in January)? Hard to say. The pros? It's German from native Germans, I got to hang out some of the time with the other parents and speak German, and of course, she loves it! The cons? It wasn't exactly cheap, it was 2.5 hours every Saturday, with about a 45-minute drive each way. Kind of a huge Saturday time commitment, and we did have to do some juggling to make it work every week. Plus, does that mean we now have the Simster go since he'll be old enough? He really wants to, but that does mean more commitment to it. And it means they haven't been able to do any other activities (like soccer, dance, etc) and I would like to have that balance. Technically, we could just do German school at home. I am a German teacher, after all, and they do speak it. I would just miss the interaction from native speakers and other kids. Sigh. We'll have to see what I decide come January.