Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of School in Germany

Yesterday, Xoe & Xanthe had their first day of school in Germany at the Mark Twain Elementary School. It's a very small school on one of the close-by army bases.

Many of you know that we almost didn't put them in school because we found out a couple days before we were to fly over here that Brian will be stationed in another town an hour away and that we would be living there after 3 months of living here (more details on that later). So, we were kind of undecided if we wanted to put them in one school, and then pull them out midyear to have them start all over again in the new city we live in.

I asked a few people for advice and I got the same reaction from all of them...that the girls are super social and they would do fine, especially since they have bounced in and out of schools a lot during their childhood and they've done perfectly fine so far.

I brought up the options with the girls to get their thoughts and when I mentioned the issue of homeschool...that even though I didn't want to homeschool them again, I would do it if it made it easier on them (ugh! I SO didn't want to)...Xoe blurted out, "Noooooooooo! No more homeschool PLEASE!!!!!" haha. I didn't know if I should have been offended or relieved. I was relieved.

The girls love, love, love school. They couldn't wait to start, especially after we visited the school and the principal woo-ed them over. I reminded them that they wouldn't be able to stay here all year and they said they didn't care. It was like drudgery (for them AND me) waiting the three days we had to wait until all the paperwork was in and filed.

Their teacher's name is Ms. Burrus and she has an amazing reputation for her teaching skills. Every year her students get such high marks on their testing, and the children all love her. She has been so great to take the time to welcome the girls in and I have such a sense of relief with where they are and the type of school they're in to help transition them from their bad year of 4th grade.

I love that the whole school is so wonderful to us. It really is like a family there. They only have about 150 students. Most of the other kids who live nearby go to another base for elementary school. That one has 450 students. Because we lived in a smaller town, and were kind of on the outskirts and closer to this school, we were able to choose the smaller one. We had the option of the bigger one but we made this decision for the following reasons: because there they can get more one-on-one help, more attention and can make better friends, rather than just being a number. Like I said, I wanted them to have a good experience transitioning back into regular school, especially since last year was such a bad year, and I really felt like a school like this could re-establish their faith in wanting to learn and get an education.

The girls' favorite class is "Host Nation". Believe me, they were SO looking forward to this class, so I was extremely happy it was on their extracurricular slot for Monday instead of at the end of the week. The class is taught by a woman named Frou Thow, who is, of course, German. And she teaches the kids German words, German phrases and German culture. They'll learn how to order at a restaurant, what is common courtesy, and how to get directions. This week they learned phrases such as "How are you?", "Where do you live?" and "How was your day?" They have been walking around practicing since yesterday. It makes me giggle cuz I love that they are so into this. I truly recognize that they could have been bratty teenagers who would make this whole trip miserable.

They also love that they get to ride the bus to school. Especially cuz it's unlike America in the fact that the American government rents German city buses to drive them to and from school. So they get to ride on an official "Schul Bus" and wait at a proper German bus stop. There are a few other kids who wait at the same bus stop and it's literally 1 block away. So the girls can walk all on their own, or with these other kids. Man, do I have it made or what!?

Except the only drawback is that we have to get up at 6:00 a.m. What?! I haven't gotten up at 6:00 a.m. for years. That is just SO early. But they have to be at the bus at 7:10 a.m. and school starts at 7:50 a.m. Military...sheesh. Everything starts SO early. It's good though. It gets me up and going for the day. I'm going to be cursing it when we have to walk that early to the bus stop in the freezing cold.

So, there you all have it to answer everyone's question I've been getting a lot, which is "How are the girls handling it?" They are loving it.

P.S. I didn't post more pictures because Xanthe took a few more of the school, but she made me promise not to post them so that she could on her blog. So, those of you who can view her blog, look for it coming soon. :)


Randi said...

How fun for them. I can't wait to hear how the Host Nation class goes. This is going to be such a wonderful experience for them.

Alicia said...

I am so glad that you are feeling so great about all this. What a wonderful experience for you all!