School update and photos

Here are some pictures from Jade and Siena’s school (click on the images to enlarge them and to see the slideshow):

I spent the day trying to figure out the school situation. Siena is starting first grade next week and we wanted to meet her teacher, both to get to know her and also to make sure that she understands that Siena is still far from fluent in Spanish and is still adjusting to life in Colombia.

Normally in Waldorf schools, kids have the same teacher from 1st through 8th grade. A great teacher makes for a great school experience and a not-so-great teacher… you get the idea. Given the important role the teacher plays, our Waldorf school in Boston had a meeting for parents to meet the teacher and ask questions months before school started (usually before we paid the tuition). Teachers also did a home visit before school started, to get to know the families and the home environment. All this to better understand the child.

Well, none of this happens here. Three days before school starts, we still haven’t met the teacher and apparently, we are the only parents in the class who have even inquired who the teacher is. This is mind blowing to me! I really don’t get how parents can be completely uninterested in who will be teaching their child, who their child will be spending so much time with. Especially when they are six years old and this is their first taste of “real school”. I don’t get it. I don’t mean to sound judgmental. I just don’t understand the thinking. I guess this is why they call them cultural differences: my way of thinking is so engrained that it’s hard for me to understand other ways of thinking sometimes. Maybe I am here to open my mind. Hmmm. Food for thought.

On a slightly different but related note, we have been having doubts about sending Saige to this school at only twenty months, even with our nanny there. The rest of the kids are three to six years old so she really won’t have any peers and will be surrounded by older kids doing older kid activities.

Given our doubts, a friend suggested again that I go check out her kids’ school. It’s nearby, she loves it, and I had a great feeling about it when I took my kids there for their weekly story time. I ran right over to check it out and I was really impressed! It’s in a gorgeous setting with animals and amazing mountain views. But most importantly, the philosophy really resonated with me. It reminded me of a progressive school Jade attended in Washington DC, minus the astronomically high tuition and the glitz. The teachers were very child-focused and very loving. They seemed to have a progressive approach to education (letting children uncover and follow their own interests rather than be led by the teacher), age appropriate activities, music, painting, playing with manipulatives but in a relaxed way. They seemed to value child psychology (In fact, it was the school psychologist who gave me a tour of the school. Hmm, maybe I should inquire as to whether the teachers have the same level of understanding as the school psychologist.) and asked parents to stay with their child until he or she gets used to school. They encourage parents to drop by, hang out and have coffee and observe. And best of all, they have toilet paper and paper towels in the bathrooms and hand sanitizer all over the place. Heaven to my germaphobe American mind (I am actually very relaxed about cleanliness and germs by American standards).

Why are we even hesitating? Well, we would have to reduce our nanny’s hours significantly so we might lose her altogether which would be a blow to the older girls. Plus, Saige will most likely start getting sick alot more once she starts school. If she stays at Waldorf with the nanny, the nanny will still be around to be with Saige is I have clients. If we put her in the other school, I won’t have back-up if Saige gets sick. Anyway, alot to think about and decide. I have to say I was really much more at peace during school vacation.

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