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.