Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A New School Year Is About To Begin

WOW! May 30 seems like only a few weeks ago. Back then, we had 3 months of summer holidays ahead of us and now, we've only a 7 sleeps left til the new school year starts.

How did you fare these summer holidays?

You ready to 'go back to school'?

MissM is ready to go back. She misses her friends and teachers and freely admits to 'enjoying school' which is what every parent loves to hear. A teacher-friend once told me, a child who enjoys school is half way 'there'!

I am ready for her to go back too in some ways, but not others. I'm happy for her to be back with friends, and enjoying school; happy to have 'my' time back to do the things I want to do, but not looking forward to early starts, trying to create healthy school lunches every day and worst of all, the thought of homework already has a stress ache in my neck and shoulders.

Deep breathes.

This year will be different.

It HAS to be. We're both a year older, wiser, settled.

Even tho she's only just turned 10, this is MissM's 5th education system starting with Montessori in Dublin, Reggio Emilia and PYP (Primary Years Program) in Yokohama (with two unplanned stints in school in Sydney), followed by an independent school in Winchester, and now the Irish system.

G went to two schools, as did I. We started and finished elementary/junior school on the same campus then we went to High School (middle/senior college).

Our two schools (to the age of 18) vs MissM's FIVE schools - and she's only 10, not even half way thru her education!

While it's no excuse, it's a damn good reason she is sometimes confused, frustrated, unsure of the academic side of school - when it comes to ballet, singing, piano, drama there's no problems as each one evolves based on her ability/RAD assessment/LAMDA exams etc.

You'd think school reports would be helpful too. Right? WRONG! They are merely a guide from one school to another, if they even bother to read them.

Now we are ALL experienced in many schools from curriculum, to philosophies on education, to welcoming new families, community spirit, offering guidance and support to students, we've come to believe that school should be about exploration, creativity, lateral thinking, problem solving, fun, nurturing, friendships, not just working towards a test or exam to show the teachers you've learnt what they taught. Have you watched any of Sir Ken Robinsons TEDtalks on education? If not, you must!

You'd think moving from one to another would be fairly easy, especially for a child in elementary (aka primary) school. Right? WRONG.

Maths is maths - not really. There are several ways to do long division, or long addition and once you know one way, and someone comes along and says we do it THIS way, without having the maturity to know there's more than one way to do somethings, it's very frustrating for everyone.

Even spelling has it's pitfalls - one system teaches phonetics only while another is learnt by lists of words each week to drill. Both reckon they are the best way to teach a child to spell and maybe they are.

And handwriting! OMG. Some systems focus on printing and encouraging the children to earn their 'pen certificate' while others go straight to cursive or others are on MacBooks.

Some give no homework; others give weekly projects on a Monday due on Thursday while others give 40-60 minutes per night. There might be weekly tests (maths, spelling are the hot ones), or pop quizzes; or more formal 'end of term papers' to be completed in record time.

Text books and work books vs working online with MacBooks.

You'd think these issues would confront in middle (high school) but not if you're an expat kid.

Several people here are home schooling their kids for various reasons. You can only imagine my admiration for them! It would take a very special parent/child relationship to do this and keep the parent/ child relationship going.

MissM's teacher last year said he loved having her in his class. He was surprised at the things she knew and her attitudes for a (then) 9 year old, but at the same time he was surprised at what she didn't know and should for her age. She was ahead of her peers in some things, and behind in others. Fortunately they had to resources to help her with these gaps.

That kinda sums up MissM very well indeed.

We've just got the class lists for this school year and we're all very excited with her teacher.  She tutored MissM last year so knows her well. MissM is very happy to have her too!

Let's hope a second, happy year at the same school will help MissM consolidate everything she's experienced these past few years, and that I learn to settle down too.

With friendship


  1. So lovely to read this as I journey into the unknown, with my 2 kiddies starting in September! It's been a wonderful summer & I don't want it to end!! See you soon for a coffee tho, MsHavachat xx

    1. Oh bittersweet these next few days are then for you :)
      A new chapter as your little ones start school - for them and you.
      Be in touch for that coffee date x

  2. I'm actually surprised (not to jinx it) how well these hols have gone - the kids are older, more independent, better able to work with me as to what we will do and what they want to happen. We still have tons of daily struggles to be sure, but oh what a difference even from last year! When I was a kid we made our own fun, but in those days you could just wander down to the playground, to the house of your current best friends, etc etc but that just isn't possible now. Schedules are KING. We've found some low-cost but rewarding summer programmes (shout out to Crystal Palace Football Club) and in the end, we have blended Mummy Chores with Kid Fun Stuff. and god bless global warming for sending us blackberries to pick in summer, not autumn!

    1. Think 'everyone' growing a year older helps Margarita, which is why, for us, this summer's been our very best! Schedules are KING, and just having a few things planed out over the 3 months to look forward to helps a lot.
      Really pleased to hear you've had a great summer too - here's to many many more x