I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but Princess M is more than halfway through Naíorna (kneen-ra) or pre-school.
In Ireland preschool is for the most part privately run. Each child is entitled to a government funded free preschool year, through the ECCE scheme. Most children avail of this free 15 hours per week pre-school roughly between ages 4-5 ahead of starting Primary School when they are 5.
We’ve opted to send the Princess to a Naíorna which is a pre-school taught in Irish. We hope next year she will attend a Gaelscoil which is a Primary School taught predominately through Irish.
To some, sending the Princess to Irish school may seem surprising. In fact, some may argue that being fluent in the Irish language may be irrelevant and useless….unless of course you are Irish.
Not to mention, it remains to be seen how her American mom will get through homework. Irish is a difficult language to learn as an adult English speaker. Not that I am making excuses. I have every intent to try & so far I am able to keep up with the days of the week, numbers 1-10 & simple phrases. But the truth is seeing the written Irish word will be daunting of that I am sure.
Since before she was born I have wondered how I would adapt and cope with the differences between education systems here when the time comes. Now as we officially embark on the journey of formal education, I have apparently shoved aside everything that is familiar and comfortable to dive in the deep end.
While we have no current plans to move back to the USA, that door will always remain open to us & it is possible we will be uprooting the kids at some point during their schooling. With that in mind so many people have asked us why we are bothering with Irish?
As a trained speech-language pathologist I could argue the benefits of learning a second language through immersion at a very young age. I could site smaller class sizes and innovative teaching methods. But if I’m honest none of that really matters. When it comes down to it there is only one real answer why we are sending the kids to schools taught via the Irish language…
Because they are Irish.
There will be many uncertainties & challenges that these years of education will bring for our family, but language probably won’t be one of the big ones I’m guessing.
Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir.