The first week
It has been one week exactly since we stepped on French soil and what an adjustment it has been!
Jeff and I were hit pretty hard with jet lag and then came the coughs and colds for both Jeff and I. Jeff sadly had it a lot worse than I did :( Thankfully the kids have miraculously stayed healthy through it all! We both are on the upswing and hopefully will be feeling great in no time.
The kids all started school on Monday morning at 8:30. The boys attend the elementary school (grades 1-5) and E attends la maternelle (3, 4 and 5 year olds). I'm not sure if it is common in all kindergarten classes in France but here they mix the 3, 4 and 5 year olds so that the older ones can help out. Thankfully the two schools are about 30 meters apart. The school day starts at 8:30 and ends at 4:30 but there is a two hour break from classroom activities for lunch and playing. For lunch they head to the cantine where a lovely well balanced meal is served! We pay for this but it's only 3€ per child, and SO worth it! The gates to the school are only open for 10 minutes.. if you're late, the gate is locked and you need to be buzzed in. I will have to take a picture one day to show you :)
Here is the menu:
E's class has one main teacher and two teacher helpers I believe (I understand a lot but not everything...). After the first day of school Jeff was meeting with the teacher and she was asking if we could please send a pillow and blanket, and did we have a *demonstrating sucking on a soother* for her that we could bring? Ummm... no? Apparently there had been an error on the paperwork from the Mairie (town hall that registers the children for school) and they believed that Elena was 3 years old! We all had a good laugh afterwards about this one, all teachers included :)
E says she doesn't know what people are saying to her and that she draws a lot. She also speaks about her friends being the ones that still suck on soothers. She has been fairly happy to go to school and we are so happy that she has a very caring and happy teacher (though we all miss her lovely teachers back in Victoria!!). Her teacher also loves to teach the kids English words and Elena has loved helping with that. Today I had the pleasure of accompanying the class on their walk to the town bibliothèque (library) where the wild bunch of 3, 4 and 5 year olds played with books, sat on my lap to hear me read, and listened to a story read by the librarian. Tomorrow I will go in with E and show off her personal photo book about her life in Victoria and teach the kids a few new words.
We bought the kids massive jaw breaker suckers after their first day of school
E's school playground area. Can you guess what she misses a lot from her Victoria play area? Monkeybars of course! We have been to a few playgrounds nearby and have yet to find any...
We are so happy that the boys have been placed with two caring teachers. They have taken the time to speak with me about how the boys are doing so far and check in with me at the end of the day to fill me in (in French of course.. thankfully they are kind and slow down a bit :). On the first day of school L was told there was a field trip on the city bus to a town about 10km away. He handled it well and went with the flow, phew! He had a rough few mornings saying that he didn't want to go to school and that the school day was so long. I know he misses playing with his friends in English at recess time. However, he always comes out smiling and is now so thrilled that he has a friend and has been invited to his birthday party. Now that should be interesting! On the first two days L said he had no idea what the kids were saying, but after today he says he understands everything... even if he doesn't, I love that he feels good about it :)
H has been enjoying school and doesn't seem too phased by talking to the other kids in French. One surprise for him has been the amount of homework assigned each day. He brings home two binders and three little work books, each with something different to do in it. He has dictée Tuesdays and Fridays, a phrase to memorize for Thursdays and a poem to memorize for who knows when. Thank you M.Bremaud & M.Ewald for getting this kiddo ready to take it all on! The pronunciation of H's name is pretty cute.. just picture the deepest french accent.. maybe I will have to record someone saying it :)
An example of H's homework...
The front of the school. However I have yet to see someone actually go in or out of this door. I will post a photo of the main entrance soon :)
- Both boys are writing everything in cursive. This is H's first time writing in cursive and L had his first exposure to it last year. Thankfully a lot of the text being sent home is printed as it has been difficult for them to read.
- The bathrooms at the elementary school are outside, as are the hand washing stations.
- The bathroom in la maternelle is wild and adorable. Picture 6 miniature toilets and lined up beside each other, like right beside each other that are form fitting? and have no regular toilet seats. E was quite surprised by the lack of privacy!
- A boy in H's class had to stand with his nose in the corner of the room for 5 minutes for being too loud.
Here are a few more photos of what we have been up to this past week:
La Chapelle de Notre-Dame d'Aubune from the 11th century. It's just up the road from our place and it is just stunning to look at on the hillside. The cypress trees here and in the town are beautiful!
Flossing sur le Pont d'Avignon!
Jeff & the kiddos sur le Pont d'Avignon
Loving this blue sky!
A view from le Palais des Papes in Avignon
Training back to our town after dropping off our rental car :(
Biking home from school, trying not to be blown off the road by the mistral :-p
A walk in Les Dentelles de Montmirail
The back of our town