One of the benefits of schools not having any breaks during the school year apart from Christmas and Easter, means we’re down to the last 3 weeks before the end of this school year and a monster 2.5 months off! It seems to have flown, and not having any breaks during the year also means the rhythm of getting 2 of my 3 kids up for school every morning, doesn’t get broken and they carry on and just accept it without a bleat.
Maybe it’s also the novelty of our first year being in a Canadian school, but I can certainly say we’re not as drained and frazzled as we have been in past years during the last few weeks. For my oldest, she’s doing her PAT exams in Grade 6 (equivalent to SAT’s in the UK), and they’re into the school revision period and different techniques for reminding them all of the content and refreshing their knowledge banks ready for the final exams. The exams themselves are scheduled in the final 1.5 weeks of the term with the added incentive of 2 whole days on a ‘school trip’ at the local Recreation Centre full of swimming, playing and picnics after they’re completed. Whilst I’ve no doubt the kids feel an element of pressure and the need to perform their best in their PAT’s, I wouldn’t say it was fraught or full of additional homework or stress at all. In fact, whilst I know the school is maintaining the momentum and pace, the kids seem to be enjoying the process. Or at least with 3 weeks to go – they are at the moment!
My youngest kid started school in the UK back in September – which is full-time from 4 yrs old. Things are slightly different in Canada and she’s been to reduced to half days at ‘Kindergarten’ since we arrived and doesn’t go full-time until she joins Grade 1 in September. Whilst she’s more than ready for that event, the 2 of us have had a ‘bonus’ 8 months spending time each morning doing ‘stuff’ which we hadn’t thought we would – and we’ve had a great time in the process. She’s been doing ‘KinderArt’ sessions at the local Recreation Centre for 2 mornings a week (see earlier blog) and thoroughly enjoying getting paint everywhere, throwing the odd ‘pot’ working with clay, chalking drawings on the sidewalks and trying out pastels, crayons and oils. The outputs and drawings have been prolific and I’ve certainly appreciated the fact it’s been created in another location and not in my kitchen or on my floor!
The different celebration activities put on by the school have been a super experience too. I was invited to a Mother’s Day Tea Party by the Kindergarten class a few weeks ago, and a ‘Volunteer Appreciation’ Tea (I assist with the Kindergarten book programme) last week. Both events are meticulously planned by the school and clearly a lot of time and effort goes into the arranging, coordinating and presenting. Both were held during the normal school day, had different classes performing various functions, e.g.. cake serving (and very tasty cakes they were too), iced tea pouring, guiding to seats, etc. Several classes then provided entertainment in the form of songs that had been learnt, dances performed, readings made, and pictures presented of artwork created. The Assistant Principal was on hand to voice a huge ‘thank you’ for either the work Mum’s do, or the time offered by volunteers for the benefit of the school – a message vocalised by all the various members of staff presenting their classes during the event too. The staff don’t get forgotten either. There is a ‘staff appreciation day’ and kids are encouraged to complete small ‘superhero’ logo’s and put a few words about why they think their teacher of choice, has been a ‘superhero’ during the year. It’s entirely voluntary, with the outputs presented to the teachers at a specially held luncheon over the dinner period – staffed by volunteer parents. Everyone is encouraged to send some buffet-type food into the school for this lunch with 2 stems of cut flowers – which are then carefully crafted into handmade bouquets and presented to each of the teachers. It’s a brilliant concept and together, all these events certainly create a community culture with everyone working together to make their school better and a great place to educate the kids that go there.
My middle kid is already talking about the different lunch-time and ‘recess’ groups she wants to join when she returns in September. The youngest can’t wait to ‘walk’ to school ‘by herself’ with her 2 older sisters and keeps asking when will September arrive. A reassuring sign that as they near completion of their first year in a Canadian school, they’ve settled in extremely well, and are looking forward to more in a few months time.
Phew …. it could have been so different, and much like everything else over the past 8 months, the transition has been pretty smooth and without major incident.
We’re now in the final 24 hours prior to the arrival of the first set of grandparents who fly into Canada tomorrow for their very first trip over here. It’s going to be great seeing family and familiar faces – plus hearing additional English accents! I can’t wait to see what they make of it all ……