The School is going to be a big part of our life here.  The kiddies will be there five days a week, for the majority of the day. Get this: hard core academics, Orff music, drama, art, traditional dance, swimming, violin, Spanish and a bit of soccer, all rolled into a 7-3pm day, with school bus drop off at home. No driving all over town. I know. Huge.

The jury is still out as to whether this will be all too much for the kids. I got a bit overzealous when the extracurricular options came out…  well, no, most of it is included in the mandatory school day, I just added the swimming and violin… uh, and soccer. Regardless, I figure that the crazy schedule will be a nice way for them to make some friends and speed up Spanish.

So far, E is thrilled. Like, more enthusiastic about school (science and math) than I have ever seen her. She is organized and happy and comfortable with the fact that it will take a few months to find “her people”.  She has made a couple of friends, but so far doesn’t have any interest in meeting up with anybody outside of school hours.

S is a little trickier. She has always had a hard time with change, after any vacation or move, it takes her a month or two to settle-in – until the next holiday throws her off again.  She makes friends very quickly and charms most adults, but really uses up every ounce of emotional energy doing so.  Mornings and evenings for the rest of us can be hard, not quite knowing which S we’re going to get. We play her music in the car on the way to school and she sits separately from the others at breakfast time… in an attempt to keep her calm.

She has already been invited on two playdates with nice kids and is full of stories about all kinds of social goings-on at the school.  When I drop off in the morning, kids and teachers of all ages, smile and wave “Hi S!”.  It’s hilarious. I do worry about her getting too wrapped-up in this stuff though, as social strife has been known to consume her completely – and she can be nasty when she’s upset. All of that said, she does seem to be excited about the academic side of things too.  She is eager to please her teachers and has been absorbed in books like never before (thank goodness!).

Something I did not realize about Colombia is that, because they have a Pre-Kinder program, many of the kids are a year older than mine. So far, this is working out OK, but S, in particular, is a “young” one, born in August and most comfortable playing imaginative games with even younger kids. I will have to keep a close eye on her.

W just started. Hi first day was yesterday. He has a good attitude, but was quick to tell me that he “doesn’t have any friends”.  He gets two teachers for his class of eighteen kids (OH MY GOODNESS, the pubic school system needs support. The difference in resources, staff morale and opportunity for the kids is incredible). The funniest part about W’s situation is that the families are facing the same challenges we faced at home, starting up in French Immersion. None of the kids speak English, but they are all-of-a-sudden being taught in English full-time and have no idea what is going on. We were told that W will likely get a bit bored in the beginning… and I laugh thinking about the teachers speaking in a slow, deliberate English, with W making faces at the back of the classroom.

I remember E coming home from French Immersion in Kindergarten (2006), excitedly talking about a “boil water advisory” put out by the City of Vancouver.  Apparently, it was the only thing the teacher had talked about in English in weeks!! These will be the kids in W’s class.

So, that’s it for now. Really exciting stuff for us. The school seems to have made an extra-special effort to make us “Canadians” comfortable. I have been invited to a New Parent Breakfast and have been offered parent translators at every orientation meeting. The principal has ensured that classes taught in Spanish will adapt to soften the academic blow to the girls (nice). And, our lovely Spanish Tutor has offered herself up as a social, academic and emotional support person on campus.


2 Responses to “school”

  1. I’m so glad you’ve found a good spot for them! I’ll be following your experience closely as we’re planning to put ours in school in Berlin next year. We have to make decisions soon about what language to thrust them in to. Leaning towards English to minimize the challenges…

  2. Wow. What a change for the wee ones. Gotta say that I see myself in Stella in so many ways. Please give her a giant hug for me. She’s such an awesome kid. And to E and W, too. Such stoicism and bravery. Please keep us posted on their school adventures. Love to you all. xo

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