Friday, November 18, 2011

Different is Different...Not Necessarily Bad

Several months ago I started doing a couple of posts about the differences in Poland vs. America. The differences are definitely there but either I am getting more accustomed to them after almost 11 months, or they really aren't as drastic as you would think. I think it's a little of both. There is one thing, though, that is obviously different here and I have NOT become accustomed to is the school system.

I have written in the past about how much I really like the girls' schools...especially Macie's. I will start with hers. So she is in preschool. She is doing so well and LOVES it. Her school is Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 4:00pm. Now the teachers want you to have your kids there by 9:00 so they can be there in time for second breakfast. What? They would like you there by 9? I thought it starts at 8? Well this year, her teacher asked that we would have our kids there by 8:30 so they can have some play time before structured time begins at 9:00. Macie has moved upstairs with the "big kids" this year and there is a shift in the age for starting school next year so they are trying to have them all ready to go to first class next fall.

Another difference. In the States, you start school based on your age generally before September 1st or sometimes October 1st. Here, it is based on the age you turn in a calendar year. So if you are going to turn 7 this year, you will be in 1st class. So if your birthday is in December and you will be 7 then you would start 1st class. If your birthday was in January and you turned 7, then you would start 1st class in September. That isn't necessarily a big deal when you are 7 but for some of the kids in the pre-k, you can tell a big difference in in the 3 year old class, there are kids starting who haven't yet turned 3 and they seem so little! Ok so enough with that.

In the past couple of years, the schools have slowly started shifting back a year to start first class at 6 instead of 7. It has been in Ella's class last year there were 6 and 7 year olds because some parents opted to move their child ahead. Next school year, however, all kids turning 6 (in the calendar year) will start first class. So Macie will be pushed in with this change. It will also mean a potential for HUGE classes because there will still be kids who opted not to start this year that are 7 starting along side of the 6 yr olds that must start. Does this make sense? It also means that Macie will skip zero class (kind of like kindergarten). She will go straight to first class. So because Ella started at Poland's old normal age of 7 for first class and Macie will start at the new age of 6 they will be only 2 years apart in school here. In America, they would have been 4 years apart because Macie was a September baby and just missed the cut off. Ok, enough rambling.

Macie school takes field trips ALL the time. They go to the museum, the Filharmonia...a big concert hall thing...theaters and take walks almost everyday. We see small kids out all the time with their classes all over Krakow. It cracks us up! And we don't have to sign permission slips for all of this. She also has swimming once a week and they take her by bus to the other side of town...quite a distance...for this. I am not sure if there are seat belts on the bus or not. It isn't the newest bus so I am going to guess no.

They also have people come to school and have in house field trips. She has had authors come and read books to the kids and then give them autographed copies. They have had a man do marionette puppet know the puppets on strings. They have had people come and talk about skiing safety and animal safety. I love it!

As far as lunch goes, we can send her lunch with her. (We have to send 2nd breakfast.) Or we can order it from the school. I think at the beginning we weren't going to order it but it was getting lost in translation and she kept getting it. AND SHE ATE IT!!! This is not school food...hamburgers, french fries, pizza, steak fingers and mashed potatoes. This is regular Polish food. She gets soup each day (red beet, cucumber, tomato, mushroom) and then a main meal of fish and potatoes or pasta and sauce or pierogi and cabbage salad, for example. She has become an amazing eater as a result. So it is worth the $40 a month (eek!) for her to eat at school. that is her school. My post got too long. I will do Ella's school separately.

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