My Very Unsentimental First-Day-Of-School Post

by farrah on August 25, 2014 · 10 comments

Don’t mistake ‘unsentimental’ with not being a little bit misty. Because well, I am. But just a little bit. For the most part we’re starting this school year off exactly the same as last year: in the same school, same classes, same teachers and mostly the same kids. That indeed made it one easy morning for me and probably for them too. How is this possible? Well, as part of the whole expat gig there are pros and cons and you might consider today a con.

Image for Mash-Up Project

With the twins

They are starting back at the PSZ (puerterspeelzaal) where they attended last year. In the Netherlands, a child attends this sort of preschool until their 4th birthday. They attend up to four days a week (we have a language exception which allows us to go more than the 2-3 days) and right after their 4th birthday they join the bassischool. For weeks now we’ve been buzzing about back-to-school and all that rigmarole, but no one was freaking out (which is a good thing). They turn 4 in mid-October and at that time they will join the ‘real school’ that B attends.

There are two teachers of Brody’s grade (group 1). After much back and forth, my husband and I decided to a) keep the twins together and b) put them in Brody’s class. I know his teacher, I like how she does things. I am comfortable with her- as are all of the boys. The children are kept in group 1 until they turn 6- at which time they go on to the next level, or wait until the summer is over and then start the following year.

With B

He started school this year as one of the ‘ouders’ (elders) of his class. He turns 6 in February and will wait to join the next level until fall of 2014. He was a little sad today- as many of his friends were the ouders of last year- and they have moved up. Fortunately though, there are a handful of kids returning as well to this years’ class, including his best buddy, which does indeed make things easier.

Things most certainly will be interesting once L and C join his class in October. I’ve spoken to his teacher about it at length, and she assures me that whatever decision I came to- she would agree with. I appreciate that. I was thinking she’d strongly discourage having all three boys in the same class, but she supports what we want to do. Her suggestion was to put one in the other class and the other with her, but since B is still in there I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want one of the boys to feel left out and alone. Maybe that’s a mistake- I don’t know- but for now we’re very satisfied with the arrangement and all is well.


I did feel like we missed out on the hubbub of starting kindergarten. I wrote a while ago about how I feel like missing kinder round-up was a rite of passage my boys will not experience. It’s true- but as with this expat gig so many things are pros and cons. This in my mind being a con. I can’t say that it is for B since it is all he knows, so I cannot judge upon that. It is what it is, and it’s part of the whole package.

There aren’t any yellow busses coming our way, and I do not have a fancy bento box for B’s lunch. Kids who eat at school get a sandwich, some water or juice and one other healthy thing. I have no stress there and won’t be winning any Pinterest awards. Additionally there’s no elaborate hand-made chalkboard proclaiming what they want to be when they grow up- nor a ‘class of’ sign in their hands. In fact, I took a few pics with the boys today and I am not kidding you- I was the ONLY person I saw snapping pictures! Can you imagine?! I was, I swear it.

schoolThis is the best I can do. Thanks Pic Monkey!

I know people here are excited being back to school- but there’s so many little things that we just don’t do. Does that make me feel guilty? Not necessarily. I’m pretty awful with trying to keep up with things (i.e. a baby book- oh lord. ) so I do see some of this as a relief. And besides… I have this blog here to keep all of these memories for them. For that I am eternally grateful.

Happy back to school times for all of us! Whether you homeschool, regular school, expat school or whatever. Go forth and learn wonderful things children! Please make this world a better place. 


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brynn August 25, 2014 at 11:08 am

Really nice, sincere post. There are so many things that we as expats ‘miss’ but also so much that we are rather spared. There is a lot less Pinterest competition in DE and more emphasis on having a good time with your kids and stopping to smell the roses before they get too old.


2 farrah August 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I completely agree with you! I feel that way over many things over here. I think when we go back it’s going to be quite a shock, as this is really the only school experience I will have really known. My oldest did attend a preschool in the US for a year, but that’s a bit different. Thanks for commenting Brynn 🙂


3 Julia August 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I have similar feelings about Jack going back to school as you do with the twins. Jack will have the same teacher and same classroom and same kids. Nothing changes this year except he goes an extra day, so it’s nice not to have to worry about all the newness. Next year will likely be all new and I will be a hot mess.


4 farrah August 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Don’t say that! You won’t. You might totally surprise yourself 🙂


5 Ilja DeYoung August 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm

As a teacher it helps a lot that there isnt a big hype around the whole back to school time. The children would be a lot more ‘hyped’ and it wouldnt be as pleasant to start back. (but that is probably a cultural tinted view).

By the way I am pretty sure that B, was one of the “oudsten”(which means elders) and not one of the ‘ouders’ (which means parents).
I dont mean that as ‘oh you made such a stupid mistake’. I mean to be helpful. (Often people wont tell you if you made a mistake as long as they understand what you mean. I liked people helping me with these ‘almost right’-words when I was learning English. (and still when I speak English and make mistakes. So this is kindly meant, to help you).


6 farrah August 25, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Of course! I appreciate your correction 🙂 Brody always says ‘ouders’ but I should have known he might have it wrong!

And I think that’s a very good point. I think back to my own days as a student and then a teacher- we really were so hyped up with everything from the media to websites that you couldn’t help but build this giant bubble of expectation. That isn’t here- which indeed IS a good thing!


7 CK August 26, 2014 at 12:05 am

No school buses here either – we are in walking distance! I DO however have a bento-like container for our little’s lunches… he doesn’t like it when things touch!! I bought it while living in Switzerland, although it was a few years before we needed it. This will be the first year for having to bring a lunch from home, as preschool provided a three course meal and snacks every day! Herd mentally in eating what is served has saved us. Now bringing his own lunch for kindergarten… only time will tell if he eats!


8 Ann August 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

I was going to ask you about this last week when you mentioned clothes shopping for school. For the pre-big-school years here there’s not really any excitement surrounded in it. It’s weird because here there’s an annual calendar, expected start and finish date, and other things that make pre-school (pre-first grade) seem like school-school. But, kids are with the same kids and teachers from 0-6 (or 3-6, depending on when they start). So, there’s none of that anticipation.

W left class on a Friday, and on the following Monday it was the official first day. I didn’t even really realize it until the night before. And all that first day stuff that people would typically expect (like last years stuff being off the walls and new handouts and calendars) didn’t happen. It’s just all happening throughout September.

That said, there’s a cool first-day of school tradition here that I can’t wait for W to take part of. But, I have to wait until he starts school-school at age 6.


9 Anna September 13, 2014 at 8:56 am

I think navigating school with children is such a big endeavor and stressor for expats! It’s one thing to goof when it affects just oneself, but the worry ramps up when it involves our children!

(ps- I noticed that no one was snapping photos here in France, too!)


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: