Zoe has run the gamut of emotions since finding out we are moving to Spain and that she will no longer be homeschooled. At first, last spring, she was adamant that she would hate it and demanded to stay homeschool. Then we visited Aunt Beppy and saw her amazing International School, so it was an unfair comparison, but still a similar environment. It changed Zoe’s mind to more open. Then we looked at the school website all spring and found out they have Chess club, and she was getting warm to the idea.
When we arrived we made new friends will another American family stationed here, who live just down the road and around the corner. Their son C also attends the Colegio CEDES; the one bilingual ‘international’ school here in Alabacete. They became fast friends and that secured Zoe’s excitement about attending; even after we visited the school and found out they have merely a play yard, no play ground equipment. BUT, they do get a lot of free time! Nearing the first day however, she has gotten quite nervous again, about meeting other kids and understanding Spanish (which they do half the day). She braved it, though.
On the first day morning, she was up early. We set her alarm for 0730 (school doesn’t start until 0900), and when it went off she appeared at my bedside fully dressed and ready. I needed to put another couple button holes in her suspenders and then I started to make pancakes only to discover our water was out! Luckily we keep some in the fridge…so life went on and included weird toothbrushing with bottled water. During pancake cooking (on my new paella pan bought for this purpose) Zoe got excited about switching out her new earring studs for the little duck earrings she got for school. Well, those things are on tight and when the back finally popped off it hurt! So, she did not want to get the second one off. The little duck went into her new earhole just fine, but she still smarted about the studs and had an emotional crying morning over pancakes, nerves, and one duck.
We biked over to the school together and her mood cheered a bit. She still held my hand as we walked into the schoolyard quite nervous until she spotted her friend C. Then it was all smiles and wandering off with him to socialize. The schoolyard was a wreck with parent and kids all over the place, and the teachers using a speaker to call out names one at a time. When her teacher called, Zoe went running and then walked inside with the class (and her best friend). I noticed about half the kids were in their workout/PE clothes and half in the formal uniform. Another parent told me they can wear whichever they like for the first month or so; some kids still didn’t even have a uniform. Must not have gotten that memo (well, I didn’t either, but asked).
Avi and I needed to bike back home and return with a snack, having brought nothing to school. I have not gotten any lists or info about supplies or anything, and specifically asked about food and was told all the food was provided (though another mom said she packs a snack). So, all the other kids had a snack packed….and I ran back with an apple and pistachios. I was also told school ended at 1300, but really it was 1500, so she was there longer. It all worked out. Though I’m really disappointed and fairly shocked at the lack of communication from the administration of the school, it gets rave reviews on actual teaching and curriculum from a lot of other parents in the TLP (so, people from other picky countries).
When I went to pick up Zoe she was all smiles and excited and declared, “this is the best school ever!” So, it was great, and I am so happy she loves it. I spoke with her teacher at pickup and was told the only materials she needs is a pencil case and daily desayuno (second breakfast, or snack)…nothing else. I even asked what to put in the case and she said, “empty! we give them supplies.” Zoe couldn’t stop talking about her day, too! She made a new friend called Carlotta, played alot outside, everyone had to get up in front of the class and say what they did that summer, they made name cards for desks, played jump rope, did coloring, and a lot of other fun intro to the school year stuff!
After school we drove down to the TLP base for a unit end-of-summer picnic. It was fancy, with glassware and real dishes and wine and catered food – hosted by the Dutch and Danish, so delicious fish and smorgasbord, complete with each set of flags and royal family hanging on the wall. Quite the change from a typical squadron pot luck with paper plates and keg. But, still there were tons of kids, more even!! Seems a lot of people from a lot of countries get an assignment here for good quality family time. Awesome to have the kids running around playing with littles from 10 other countries! We were officially welcomed to the unit, too, and got to meet quite a few folks.