Thursday, February 01, 2007

School: To stay or not to stay (all day)?

We have been so happy with the school we found for JieJie and MeiMei, and they clearly feel at home there too. Of course it's not been without the predictable bumpy moments as they adjust. JieJie says some kids don't let her ride on the few tricycles they have at playground time (they block her like a tiny little traffic cop), and she reported that some other kids were pulling MeiMei by her arms (we wonder if they were just fighting over who would play with her and got carried away) but we haven't heard more stories like that this week...I think/hope it is just normal kids-testing-each-other stuff, and trust that we'd have heard if there were problems that merited our involvement. It will be better for JieJie when her little friend is back.

The teachers and staff are very firm disciplinarians but clearly very loving and kind. JieJie's teacher went out of her way to find out how her preschoolers could learn to make their own snow globes, since they're studying winter this week. They turned out so well! We were asked to bring in a jelly jar (actually it was an empty red cabbage jar). Yesterday, JieJie made a snowman out of dough. The teacher took all the little snowmen home and baked them, brought them back, and then the kids assembled their snow globes with water and glitter, and it works just like a real one. JieJie's creation is proudly displayed on the mantel in the apartment. It may be the only "snow" we see this winter, very mild weather we're having.

Since things are going well enough after three weeks of school, we're starting to think about having them stay for lunch and the early afternoon which usually consists of art or music or some other fun activity. They seem curious to see what happens when their classmates head in the opposite direction at noon when we pick them up. Probably best to try just one day next week and see how they react.

If you look at the big picture, it might be good for them to spend longer days in school. They won't really have a ton of days in school, between school vacation days and our side trips cutting into the weeks. Between now and the end of April, they'll be out for four weeks total! There's a week off in February (that's when our program goes to Germany), then we're gone the last week of March to Luxembourg/Strasbourg/Paris, and then the school takes the first two weeks of April off for Easter...then they have only 8 more days of school til we leave. I can see why some people who bring older kids on a semester abroad choose to home-school them through online courses. If the girls were in first grade or beyond, they would miss a great deal of school, though travel is of course very educational.

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