Back to School

Like so many of you, we are also getting ready for the school year to begin.  In preparation, we are having a very low-key week, checking off school supply lists, deciding what to wear to orientations and the first day of school.

Buying school supplies has been a bit Harry Potter-esque:  we received our very long list of supplies in the mail, along with instructions as to where we could buy the items (Monoprix for Sarah’s white lab jacket, L’Emile for books and other supplies.  No wand or dress robes on the list).  Sarah’s list was the longest and included five books to read over the summer, three in French.  Her English books included The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon.  I was thrilled to see such a strong book on the list and can’t wait to hear about the discussions from class.  Her list also included science equipment, mathematics materials and art supplies.  Not to mention big (and expensive) dictionaries.  Elizabeth and Julian had shorter lists but still significant.  Their list included items such as 1 cahier de travaux pratiques sans spirals SEYES (grand carreaux) 21 x 29, 7 40 feuilles/80 pages.  And just in case that wasn’t clear, they gave you the translation:  exercise book.  Very helpful (read: sarcasm).  All lists included fountain pens, ink refills and blotting paper.   Hogwarts, right?  I thought about asking for “a bit of parchment” in my best British accent, but decided against it.

Luckily, the women at L’Emile were fantastic, whisked the lists out of my hands, let the kids pick out some of the more personal items like agendas and pencil cases and sent us on our way, asking us to return 30 minutes later.  When we did, the items were boxed and bagged, by student.  Such service!  Then they gave me the bill.

This Friday Elizabeth and Julian have a school tour and orientation in the morning and Sarah has her first of two orientations in the afternoon.  They sent us a list of what we need to bring along which includes mostly photos of the kids and our cheque book.  With regard to the photos, you need passport-sized photos for almost everything.  In fact, there is a photo machine for passport photos in almost every train station.  For five euros you get six photos.  They are used for school IDs, lunch cards, Release cards (this tells the school when/how they can release you at the end of the day:  do you need to have a parent/guardian present to leave the school, can you leave on your own, can you leave early if class gets out early), train passes, bike passes, soccer IDs, our Louvre annual pass.

On Saturday there is a Welcome New Families event so we are all looking forward to that.  It’s sponsored by the PIA (Partners in Adaptation) which has been an invaluable resource to me.  Not only do they have a website with every possible piece of information about the school you would ever need to know, they have more outings for parents than you could ever wish to participate in.  You can sign up to be in a book club (English or bilingual?  During the day or evening?), meet for lunch, go on a variety of tours, they’ll get you tickets to shows around town.  They have a resource book that includes information on things like physicians, dog grooming, hair salons and whether they are English-speaking or not.  There are forums on restaurants, traveling around Europe, shopping, and Q/A posts for all the questions you may have that aren’t answered somewhere else.  Last week I posted a question asking if there were school pictures.  I received lots of responses about individual pictures, class pictures and yearbooks.  Good stuff.  And they match everyone up with a Parent Partner.  Judy and her daughter, Sarah, have been a great resource for us since the spring.  Her Sarah is my Sarah’s age and went through the Adaptation program last year.  They are here for another year so her Sarah will be in the regular classroom this year.  And there is a New Parent Cocktail and Information Evening next Thursday.  My PTA wheels are spinning with all the good things that this parent group does.

Elizabeth and Julian have their first day of school next Wednesday (actually a half-day because they all get out at 12:30pm every Wednesday) and Sarah has another orientation in the afternoon.  Her first day of full classes is Thursday.

In the adaptation program, 85% of their classes will be taught in French, the other 15% in English.  The classes are 12-14 students at each grade level with all students coming in knowing English but beyond that, it’s a toss up.  Some don’t have any French experience but may be fluent in other languages.  Sarah was emailing one classmate today that knows five languages; she is originally from Italy.  Judy, our Parent Partner, has told us that although it seems surprising  there is a two-week break so soon into the school year (October 26 – November 11), in her words, “They will need it”.  But in the next sentence she added, “But just wait; it will blow you away when you start hearing a French accent coming from your kids.”

I think we’re ready.

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Categories: Kelley's Kilometers | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. Christian Conte

    I’m glad there getting back to school soon.
    Don’t they have a Meet and Greet this Friday?
    I hope there excited.
    When do they start?

    I’m excited for my Dance class to start in a few weeks!
    (Going to be fun!)

    Christian Conte

  2. Colleen Hartman

    My head is just swimming after reading your blog. I admire your creative and adventuresome spirits to do this wonderful thing for the 5 of you. I went to the computer to translate Tom’s heading on yesterday’s blog. Maybe I’ll learn something too! What a wonderful educational experience for the kids. Mark’s kids are all back in school and while they all like their teachers, they do not like lunch or the lack of it. Seems there is a mandate from someone on high that elememtaries get 500 calories and high school get 700. Not enough for those staying after school for activities. They come home starving. Mark said the first night they ate like “hostages”.

    • Kelley

      Colleen, I can’t imagine my kids, as small as they are, being able to survive on so few calories. I think if you just keep it healthy you can offer a lot more foods. Do they have the option of bringing their own lunch? Elizabeth and Julian cannot bring their own this year so we will see how that goes. It sounds like it’s a pretty full meal.

      Thanks for your comments. And, you know, I didn’t know what Tom’s heading really meant either until he told me…Driving Miss Kelley. He is the clever one!

  3. Karen Hoffmeier

    This Blog is just amazing. Glad that you got all the supplies. When I read the notice about fountain pens and refills I had visions of the ones I used that had a little flip up thing that sucked up the ink and then your fingers were covered in ink. Hopefully they have improved. Do they have penmanship or do they learn calligraphy? Thanks for calling today. I’ll be so excited to hear about orientation and the first days of school. Kids seem to adjust so well that I’m sure in no time they will be handling this new adventure quite well. Love the idea of those small classes! Will Julian and Elizabeth be together? I’ll have to have Pat help me with my French.

  4. Jessica Bates

    Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I enjoy keeping up-to-date on your family’s adventure…so interesting. Guess I can stop complaining about the Verona School District’s supply list 🙂

  5. Rebecca

    I love this story! I had this with the kids last year….had to buy supplies at a stationery store, and got the bill for about 300 Euro! I was cursing and thinking of creating my own European branch of Target. Think of the profits!!
    You guys sound well and happy! Glad everyone is settled and you enjoy the first weeks of school! Xoxo

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