Family move reveals differences in early education

Nancy Zuckerbrod:

That’s my girl, I thought, as Olivia tore away from us to join the other 5-year-olds for circle time — legs crossed, hand stick-straight in the air in response to the teacher’s question about how the kids spent Father’s Day.
My husband and I exchanged knowing glances, convinced that she was a shoo-in for admission, and left Olivia with her uniform-clad peers so we could tour the British prep school in the quaint red-brick Victorian building.
The e-mail came a week later. It asked us to please call the head teacher, the equivalent of a school principal in the United States.
We were back at home in Washington D.C., thinking about what to store, ship and toss as we prepared for our family move to London. The change is a big one for all of us, but I didn’t realize quite how different things would be for Olivia until that phone call.
The head teacher and I exchanged pleasantries, and then she laid it out. My daughter, who commonly invokes the Mandarin word for little brother and usually wins at the game hangman, has a significant “learning gap” when compared with her British peers — especially in literacy.