Stella has been going to French preschool now for about 2 1/2 weeks. We took off a few days when Tim and Julie were visiting because when someone flies across a very large ocean to see you and your darling children, you drop everything and hang out, somehow she will be able to catch up, somehow.
My review about this school is mixed but overall I think we are happy with it. It is a public parochial school although as far as I can tell other than a cute baby Jesus statue it doesn't seem to have a religious curriculum.
Stella has had a hard time. She has always been that little girl in the classroom that likes to know the rules, follow the rules, and help the teacher out. Since she cannot understand anything she doesn't know the rules, she doesn't know what is going on, she still doesn't know anybody's name. It has been hard for her. She has had a lot more nightmares than usual. About two or three times a week she wakes up somewhere between three and six a.m. and braves the dark narrow stairs to come into our room. Seth and I have given up trying to put her back and now have a toddler mattress, blanket, and pillow for such an emergency. Yet, when pick her up she is always happy and smiling and excited about her day.
The largest manifestation of her stress is usually in the mornings. She has ALWAYS had issues getting dressed. My very responsible and surprisngly mature four year old turns into a crazy tantrum possessed child in need of an exorcism. It is really quite a show. She spits, screams, kicks, punches she pretty much does anything she can to NOT get dressed. Truthfully we really don't even know what it is that causes this giant fit. We used to think it was just pants or shorts, which maybe it was at one point, but now she is doing it purel as a delay tactic. The girl is smart, she recognizes that if she causes enough grief she MAYBE just MAYBE might not have to go to school.
So far parents are winning but I would be lying if it didn't take an emotional toll on me. Basically I have to either dress her outside and she quickly realizes that clothes are a necssity when the 50 degree (F) wind cuts to the bone or just force the clothes on her and rush her outside so the neighbors can see her (she does have some sense of what the neighbors will think and never throws public fits, a good thing for me, mostly). It is ridiculous, I am tired and I hope this fight ends soon.
I would be lying if I didn't admit that I have wanted to pull her out of school a hundred times now. I miss having her in the morning, I hate having to rush out and get her to school, I miss having Stella play with Tiger in the morning and I am a little sad about her going to full time kindergarten next year. That being said, I can tell it is good for her.
She is starting to make perfect French noises, noises my mouth is incapable of making. After two weeks she made a friend and the best news yet they added an aid that specializes in FSL (French as a Second Language). She now knows the rules and is starting to make sense of her world.
The school is different than American schools in a lot of ways. The most frustrating part is the lack of parent involvement. Parents are not part of the day, they are considered a disruption. It makes me sad. I had such a positive experience when Stella was in a co-op preschool. I loved learning from her teacher and seeing her interact with her peers.
The other difference is what they control. For example they tell me what snacks are allowed on certain days. Our neighbors send their son to a different school and he can't even bring his own snack. He is required to eat the sloppy soup they give him and, get this, he is forced to DRINK it. The horror.
The big difference I found at this school versus other local schools was the grief they did not give me when I expressed my desire to only have Stella attend 15 hours a week instead of 35. I said it before and I will say it again but I just don't think kids need that much school at four years old. Not against daycare but for me it is just not what I want to do with my kids so I really resented the schools that pushed that as the only option.
This is still a grand experiment. Reading this article brought tears to my eyes at parts but it is worth it.
Sending your child away to school is a hard part of parenting. Sending them to a school that you can't talk to the teacher, its a little harder.
I will update the blog as we go along. Advice is appreciated, this is all uncharted territory for us.