My “back-to-school” post is more than a week later than everyone else’s. And for that, I’m sorry. We just got really busy, really quickly.
On the plus side, I feel as though I’m in a much better position now than a week ago to more adequately describe and explain our educational (which is also our work) lives.
Here is the girls’ official first day of school photo, taken on our balcony:
And this leads into our first biggest change from our Canadian school, which is the uniforms. I LOVE THEM. Gone are the hassles about what to wear. They only have to add socks and decide if it’s a pants day or a skirt day.
School begins here at 8:30am and ends at 3:25pm. Ben has a fairly regular teaching schedule all week and in a complete flip to the last 6 years of our lives, HE is the one going home with the girls every day after school. I have after-school-care duty (yes, it’s done by the teaching staff!!) every single day until 5:00pm. However, I don’t actually start until 10:30am each day and I have one day where I only work 1.5 hours. After some adjustment to having a set, regular schedule and only one bathroom for all of us to get ready in the morning, it’s starting to become easier.
For the first time in a long time, the girls were actually excited to begin school. It meant the opportunity to socialize, and in that area, they’ve done well for themselves. They’ve managed to meet 90% of the school’s grade 5 and up population and playdates in the park have happened. There is one Italian girl in Kenzie’s class that can only speak about 5 words of English and somehow, through sounds, gestures and facial expressions, they have become the best of friends. It’s truly incredible to see how human connections can be formed without the use of language.
We live about a 7 minute walk or 3 minute bike ride to/from the school, and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We maximize our free time, can be at the sea or the park within 5 minutes and wake up as late as possible for school.
Our days are filled with 45 minute class blocks. The girls’ schedule has never been more varied: Geography, Polish, Ethics, History, Maths, Science, P.E., Gym, Art, Music, French, Library, Computers and English are rotated differently daily and makes for an interesting change of pace with different teachers for each. It’s not a mistake that I wrote P.E. and Gym separately; they are separate classes – one for a traditional sports-like class, and the other is literally Gymnastics (think handstands and somersaults). The school has over 50 after-school clubs on offer and the girl’s are doing Swimming and Choir.
As you may expect, Ben teaches Maths (the “s” at the end is also not a mistake – it’s what they call it here) and Computers to Grades 4 and up. I do reading assistance, Library and ESL support to the younger grades, some of whom have taken to clinging to my legs and holding my hands at every opportunity.
Who you know is important in Poland. A very kind Irish-Canadian school parent has hooked me with a good hair salon, where to find bacon, and a store that is the spitting image of Winners back home.
And so it goes that we are slowly but surely developing into a full life here in Gdansk. School and work are becoming routine and while we occasionally have difficult moments or even days, we have nothing to complain about.