Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Language immersion programs known as “dual language” programs are a growing trend in public elementary schools. They allow students to become bilingual in English and another language, like Spanish. 

Providence school officials have just announced a plan to offer new dual language programs in Spanish and possibly Mandarin at Carl Lauro Elementary School.

The programs would begin with two Kindergarten classrooms in each language, then add a grade every year until fifth grade.

Woonsocket schools will offer full-day kindergarten starting in the fall.  The school department says it will come at no extra cost to taxpayers.

Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan says about 7 percent of first graders are held back each year because they are reading below grade level. To close that gap, the school department will offer more than 500 children full-day kindergarten in 22 classrooms.

This will require eleven new teachers and eleven new teaching assistants. The school department says that can be paid for with federal grants and a boost in state aid.

Some of you may know that I’ve been on maternity leave for the last three months, after the birth of my first child.

In fact, anyone listening to Rhode Island Public Radio on July 4th might have even heard a news item announcing the birth of Luna Charlotte Smick earlier that morning.