When I was young, I always loved the school holidays (is there anyone who doesn’t?), and come the prospect of the new school year, I always felt they’d gone way too quick, I hadn’t done half the things I had hoped, and needed much longer off. That said, off I’d trot on the first day and by the end of the first week, it felt like there had never been a holiday at all. Teachers and pupils alike, I’m sure the feeling was unanimous.
Well, we can’t delay the inevitable and our first Canadian summer holiday is finally over and all 3 kids have returned to school. After 2.5 months off, things are slightly different on this side of the pond. All 3 were keen to go back and return to the normal routine and rhythm that school brings, which, quite frankly, was a blessed relief. Mind you, it could say more about the delights of spending time at home with me than it does about returning to school …..
It’s been a great summer. We’ve had grandparents visiting, been on holiday, visited new places in and around Edmonton, all of which has been accompanied by truly superb ‘proper summer’ weather. But that’s starting to change, the leaves are changing colour and Autumn is calling. School has started.
There are some differences to school in the UK. For starters, you have to provide school supplies. At the end of last term, each kid came home with a list of supplies that needed to be procured and sent in with them on their first day back. Things like rulers, paper, pens, crayons, binders, folders – virtually everything that Staples stocks. It must be a stationers dream having this requirement and costs parents an absolute fortune. It just goes to show how much stationery budgets must amount to back in the UK to keep school’s fully stocked and maintained – something I never gave much of a thought to until now. On the plus side, the kids love choosing their items and then getting home and putting their names on everything. I remember when I was little, even the simple chore of choosing a sparkly new schoolbag and pencil-case for the new school year being a highlight. It doesn’t take long before the zips are broken, graffiti is on the front, and the bits from the pencil sharpener have made their way into the dark recesses of the lining – but the novelty of choosing new equipment never seems to wear off.
Back home in ‘Blighty’, kids move up to the next year, change teacher, and often stay with their classmates. Here, kids will move up to the next year (or ‘grade’ as it’s called over on this side of the pond), but that’s about all is known until the first day of school. There’s more than one class to a year, and come the new school year, all the classes are mixed up, and there will be a new selection of school friends in each of the classes – some kids they will know already and have met previously, but others who they’ve never met or taken a class with before.
All my kids were looking forward to finding out who would be in their class, who they would know already, who they would make new friends with, and who their teachers would be. The advent of modern technology has kicked in for my oldest kid who instantly took to social media and messaged her friends from her class last year, to find out who would be in the same class as her this year. All three haven’t batted an eyelid at the change and difference to being back in the UK, and I guess like everything in life, variety is the spice of life …..
Teachers change, and there are also at least 2 teachers for each class, specialising in specific subjects and alternating their time between two classes during the day and across each week. My youngest kid has finally started school full-time and on her first morning, found that a number of her previous friends from Kindergarten were in the same class. She’s thoroughly enjoyed walking to school each morning and being stimulated with a full day of lessons and new things to learn. Her biggest excitement on her first day was attending the music class and providing the accompaniment on the big bass drum. Hitting things hard seemed to appeal to her immensely, and she couldn’t wait to go back and try it again!
I received a present on my first day dropping my youngest kid off in Grade 1. A lovely note from the teachers in my youngest’s class, with a sachet of tea for me to sample on my return back home, and a suggestion that I could finally put my feet up and relax until home time. I certainly sampled the contents, although not sure I managed to get as far as putting my feet up (note to self: must try harder tomorrow).
All the teachers go out of their way to encourage communication with parents, wanting to know how they can achieve the best out of each child over the next school year, each child’s specific areas of strength, and whether there are areas they need to be mindful of. It’s clearly seen as a partnership between parents and teachers to help each child’s learning and growing. Some children manage the transition back to school better than others – and that’s only natural I guess. My three kids seem to transition with ease – and I wonder if it’s partly to do with the way I wholeheartedly embrace change and new things. Talking of which, I’ve now the opportunity to create my own routine and daily activities whilst my three monkeys are otherwise occupied. I’m not going to struggle with this challenge, I can tell …. 🙂