29 January 2009

School Begins 28 January, 2009

It is summer here in the southern hemisphere. Because of that, all the schools have been closed for summer holidays. All that changed on Wednesday, 28 January when the schools in New South Wales resumed holding classes.

I enrolled Clara, Tristan and Zoe at the Copacabana Public School on Tuesday. With the exception of Clara, we were unsure where the children would be placed, so Tristan and Zoe were to be tested on Wednesday.

When we arrived to school on Wednesday, Tristan was placed with Year 3 and 4 students. They took him around and he began the process of making friends. Later in the afternoon, he was tested. On Thursday morning, they moved him to Year 2 - which is equivalent to 2nd Grade in the US - which he would still be attending if we were in Madison. But Tristan is dissatisfied with school now because he believes he's in with younger children. We'll have to see what we can do to help him feel like he's in with peers.

Zoe had a similar experience. Kindergarten started on Thursday, but Zoe went to school on Wednesday with the previous year's kindergarten class. Then she was tested and found to be at Kindy level. Which is no surprise as she only had 2 months of Kindergarten in the US. Fortunately, Zoe has taken everything in stride and is happy with her school and teacher. There are 16 kindergarten students in Zoe's classroom. There are 16 students in the other kindergarten class too. All this could change next week....see below.

Clara has obtained rock star status. Unlike the other two, she was immediately placed in Year 6 - the year she attended in the States. When I looked in on her at lunch time on Wednesday, she was surrounded by 4 girls and 1 guy came through to offer her a high 5. She said she likes the school.

Copacabana Public School is a small school. There were 267 enrolled last year - half the size of Shorewood Elementary school - where the children attended school in Madison. Copa has 1 more grade then Shorewood. Copacabana is located on the other side of the lagoon from Macmasters Beach. It is 35 - 40 minute walk from our house. I have decided that I will drive the children in the morning. On Wednesday, I walked to school to pick them up, taking Neo in the stroller. Part of the walk is on the beach. Taking the stroller across the sand is slow going. But the more difficult part was keeping everyone walking. Zoe and Neo wanted to play. And Tristan and Zoe spent time wading in the lagoon. The walk to/from school for me on Wednesday (which was a hot day) was over 2 hours.

In Australia, all school children, whether Private or Public, must wear uniforms. Zoe's summer uniform is a dress with black shoes and white socks. Tristan's summer uniform is gray shorts and a blue button down shirt. His shoes must be black and socks gray. Clara is a senior so she can chose between the dress or a skirt and blue polo shirt. She also has white socks and black shoes. All students must wear the school hat.

The politics of class size has followed us to Australia. Last year there were 11 classroom teachers. So far the enrollments to support 11 classroom teachers is one child short. There will be a meeting on Monday to discuss options. The official reporting date is 4 February, so they will hope for 1 more and formulate alternative plans. Classes for this year will be created after 4 February, once the official numbers are recorded.

On Friday, the school held a swim carnival for all students who will be 8 years of age in 2009 and older. Clara participated in the freestyle race. Tristan preferred to swim during the Novelty - a time for a swim without racing. The kids swam over and under the buoy lines. Of course this is Australia, and the kids here are really good swimmers and take their swimming to heart.

The students and staff are very welcoming toward me and the kids. Zoe had made a special friend on Wednesday. Even though they are no longer in the same class, they still can be together at lunch time.

I have met several parents in just these last few days. I hope to become more involved with school and make friends. On the first day of school, I suggested to another mom with a 2 year old that we go for coffee. It was nice to chat and let the Noe and Noor play.

1 comment:

oldwhitelady said...

Cute pictures of the children. I like those hats. They will be helpful in the sun.