It’s a whole thing to be anticipating the 4th birthday of your oldest child. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to add to it the drama of starting a new school at the same time.
Here in The Netherlands, when a child turns four years old they start school. This is a step up from the ‘playgroup’ or peuterspeelzaal- which children attend beginning at age 2. It’s not required for children to attend playgroup- but coming from a situation where all three of the boys were in a quasi-school setting back in the states, we wanted to let them give it a try. I talked about this just a month ago– really? Already a month?
It has been wonderful experience having the boys in this playgroup. The twins go two days a week and B has gone four (he was eligible for the language exception which gave him extra classes for language development- starts at age 3). The days the twins went, B went at the same time so it was fun to see them all in the same class together. No more than 15 kids and two teachers- a little over two hours a day. I felt very, very comfortable with those numbers.
Now we are moving on and up to the ‘real school’ next door. In addition to the required potty trained aspect (which we mastered without much fuss a little over a month ago) he is to go four days a week from 8:30am- 3:30pm. There are up to 36 children in a class and 1 teacher (no aide) with ages 4, 5 & 6 in his class.
Can you feel my blood pressure rising?
I’ve got nerves and flip floppity stomach aches just thinking about all of this.
We’ve done a couple of half days as practice- but it’s quite a bit to take in and that’s not even including the whole foreign language thing!
My baby is being thrown into a classroom of a million kids- older at that, not knowing a soul and not speaking or understanding the language.
I do not plan on receiving my MOTY award any time soon, that’s for sure.
They’re very flexible with allowing me to ‘ease’ him into the program- so I will most likely be bringing him home at noon for at least the first week. You might think this is nuts- but he still naps! And sleeps well at night! So as you can see- I’m hesitant to mess with a good thing.
When I dropped him off at the new school on Monday for a ‘practice run’- he gave me the sad frowny face with eyes filled with tears. He didn’t cry- but I left with a lump in my throat. I felt awful- guilty! He didn’t know anyone but the teacher and was jibber jabbering away in this crazy 4-year-old voice about how much he loves whales and sharks with a bunch of uncomprehending sets of eyes upon him.
But he did great! And he was happy when I came to pick him up that day. But I’m still nervous. Monday. I wish I knew the ending to this story- but only time will tell. This is different from the first time I took him to preschool or his summer program. This is REAL. This is FOREIGN. I feel like I am abandoning him but at the same time I am so proud of the brave and happy little boy that he has become. He’s always loved school- I just don’t want this to screw it up. I will never forgive myself if that happens.
I already have the options of what to do if this doesn’t work out rolling over in my mind… they’re complicated and most likely a logistical mess but I’ll do it. I should be thankful to have a back up plan at all. We chose not to put them in an International school for a reason- we wanted the ‘full’ experience. I just wish it was easy. Closing your eyes and just hoping for the best when it comes to our kids is not possible.
So wish us luck and I’ll let you know how it goes.
How did you deal with those first day of school jitters for your oldest child? If you’re an expat what school choice did you make?