** I really wish I hadn't gotten so far behind in blogging. I wish I had written these posts when the experiences were fresher in my mind.
It wasn't until the end of the school year last year that I had any real idea of how nervous Cameron had been to start school at Lucas Vale. And I know some of those nerves returned to him at the beginning of the school term this year as well. I think he was the most reluctant to go back to school, I don't think he has the same social needs and pleasures that Mim and Simon do, nor does he have the close friends like Eli does. But I know him well enough to know that even if only on a sub-conscious level, he loves schedules and routines and predictability, and for those reasons I know he appreciated back to school.
I think Eli was pretty indifferent to school, he was excited to spend time with his friends again, but also schedules and routines are not his cup of tea, so I think he could take it or leave it.
Miriam had mixed feelings too, an excitement about seeing old friends and teachers, but a reluctance to do the "work" of school. She does love social situations, but is also easily tired, and those days can be long for a five year old.
Simon was definitely the most excited. He was beginning Reception which is all day school, at the "big" school. He did two half-days for transition and then midway through the week he was on the same schedule as all the other kids.
One of the great things about their school is that the children stay in the same classes all the way up. So they were with the same group of kids as last year, and they automatically knew everyone. I can't remember if it was like this back in Kuna, but the teachers seem to know all the kids as well, so it makes for an easier first few days.
POST EDIT** I usually go back through my posts and read them for errors and flow and such. But this one was so boring I couldn't even read it a second time. Sorry.
Part of Cameron and Eli's induction was a school tour, given to us by two "Year Fives". Bless their hearts, but as I bombarded them with questions I only became more confused. But this is what I've learned.
Nursery: For children who are 3 years of age when school begins. Nursery is comparable to a first year of preschool except it is government funded. Most or many primary schools (think elementary school) have a nursery too, but there are also a lot of private nurseries/daycares. The government sponsors 15 hours of nursery each week for children who are three years old. Some schools are flexible about which hours your child can attend, but at Lucas Vale it is run in AM/PM shifts. I decided to put Simon in the morning shift at Lucas Vale so he will attend school from 8:45-11:45 every day. He also has to wear a school uniform. I'll drop off all four kids at school every morning. !
Reception: For children who are 4 years of age when school begins. At first I thought Reception was comparable to Kindergarten, but it's really just a full-time preschool. It focuses on imaginary play and less structured curriculum and learning. Miriam will be in reception, which means that when we come back she will in fact be in the same grade/level as she would have been if we had stayed. Reception is a full school day, 8:45-3:45. Miriam doesn't start school until the end of September and the first week is just half days. They also give children the option to stay on half days for a longer transition period if the full days are too difficult. Miriam wears a uniform and also has PE once a week. The sad bit for Simon is that he will have a year of Reception (full time/all day school) and then come back to the states and go to part-time kindergarten. Poor kid. Or not. Poor me?
Nursery and Reception are part of the "Foundation" category and operate under a different learning model than the subsequent years. I'm not exactly sure what that means but I'm just learning the vocabulary. Levels 1 and 2 are called "Key Stage 1" and levels 3-6 are "Key Stage 2." Like I said, I'm not exactly sure what it all means.
Level 1: Children who are age 5 at the beginning of the school year. This would be the kindergarten equivalent. So the number of my kids level/grade doesn't match up with the number of the grade they would be at home.
Level 2: First grade equivalent.
Level 3: Eli will be a level 3.
Level 4: Third grade... you get the idea.
Level 5: Cameron will be a level five. The primary schools go up to level six, so thankfully all four kids will all be at the same school for the two years that we are living here.
This is all really boring but maybe grandparents are still reading.
The school year is divided into three terms, Autumn term, Spring term, and Summer term. They get a week of holiday at half term, and a longer break between terms. (Two weeks at Christmas, etc.) Their summer break is only 5-6 weeks. At the induction the school made it very clear that students are not allowed to miss school during term without a Dr. excuse or funerals. Sadly, we are scheduled to leave London in May of 2016 and so the kids will only get to attend two terms next year. I kind of have a knot in my stomach over this. I guess it can't be helped but I wish we had planned better.
The uniforms consist of black or gray shorts/pants/skirts with a white polo or collared shirt and black shoes. They are required to wear the school sweatshirt every morning and they also have to have a matching blue backpack with the school logo. We went back to the school to buy the kids sweatshirts, PE kits, and backpacks and it was a pretty penny. And that doesn't include the actual uniforms. (Five days worth of pants and polos for four kids.) But they are all going to look so smart!
I really liked all the teachers and staff I've met at the school so far. During the induction we had an interview with two members of the "inclusion team" who were really kind and answered all my questions. I don't really know what to expect, and I think all the kids (except Simon) are a little nervous too. But the opportunity for all four of my kids to attend the same school for two years will surely have some fantastic benefits.
I don't know how to read in moderation. Just like I don't know how to eat peanut butter M&Ms in moderation. Or chat on the phone with Lori in moderation. I can only do these things in excess so I sometimes put them off (Sorry Lori!) for a long time which probably only makes it worse.
I haven't blogged because I've spent the last three days engrossed in the book These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner. It was a going away gift from a friend and it gobbled me up. Then after I've done nothing but read a novel for days my thoughts start to run like prose and my life becomes dramatic fiction all in my head and I feel a little out of sorts and when I hear a British accent out my front window I'm terribly confused because my present moment is in the Arizona territories in 1887. Such are the joys of a book. But then the fall-out is a messy house and demons for children because how could I possibly be troubled to feed and discipline them when poor Miss Prine is fighting for her life against Apaches?
Well to account for the last three days I'll write about the activities I reluctantly squeezed in between reading sessions.
Friday night we went to Costco. When we got home, hours later, Richard and I vowed to never forget that a trip to Costco or Ikea is a four hour committment, at least. And it turns out, not just anyone can get a membership to Costco here. The woman at customer service kept asking Richard if he was sure we didn't already have a membership from the States that we could use. "Don't all Americans have a Costco membership?" she asked. But it also turns out that KPMG has an arrangement with Costco so we should be able to get one if we want. I think the only reason we seem to believe we can't live without one here when we managed to live without one in Boise is because the portion sizes of groceries in the stores here are so inadequate for a family of six, and we are hoping the Costco sizes will be a bit more like "normal" sizes back home.
Saturday was cloudy and stormy and Richard took the kids to the church for an activity in the morning. Saturday afternoon is a blur... I'm not sure what Richard and the kids did...
Sunday at church I got a calling. I am now the second counselor in the Young Women Presidency. There are a total of two young women who attend church regularly and I already adore them.
This photo is Sunday's representation. It's mine and Richard's secret and most delicious treat. It's like the best strawberry lemonade you've ever had but to EAT. The strawberries here are so small but so flavorful. I don't know why we think we need to genetically modify all our produce to be bigger. It's not better.
Monday morning Cameron and Eli had their induction at school and I asked in advance if I could bring all the kids and they said that would be fine. We took the bus this time.
I'll have to devote an entire post just to the school induction and everything we learned. We went back this morning to buy all the "PE kits", "jumpers" and backpacks. (There was a word for those too but I can't remember it.) I felt badly for the kids because everyone kept commenting on how small they are and how Eli must be on the brink of a growth spurt so we better buy a size bigger. Eli has never seemed to mind being small though and when Cameron looked disappointed the same woman said "You will have a growth spurt too!"
On Monday after the induction we had to walk home because my Oyster card was broke and you can only top-up at stations or online and I haven't registered to do that yet. An Oyster card just looks like a credit card and you can use it on the tube, the DLR, the overground, and the rail and buses when you are in certain zones in the city. It's really convenient. It's so fancy that you don't have to scan it anywhere, you just touch it to the electronic pad and it scans it, gives you a green light and tells you your balance.
Anyway it was really hot and past lunch time so we stopped and had doughnuts on a park bench. I would say I bribed the kids with doughnuts, but that would have just been bad parenting because they were so naughty at the school they didn't deserve anything. I forgave them because I wasn't smart to make an appointment at lunchtime and I blame the school for making me fill out pages and pages of paperwork that they could have sent home with me on the day I made the appointment.
Here we are on Tuesday and I feel like we don't have much to show for the week so far other than that the kids are all registered for school and I finished a whole book.
Author and creator of this weblog; phase two of my internet chronicles of just your average middle class, "married with children" family life.