Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Tag: school

School Days

By Elizabeth

At a crisp 48 degrees Fahrenheit when we took these pictures, it was the coldest first day of school I’ve ever experienced. Thankfully, the sun was shining and it warmed up beautifully.

 

School Days, School Days

Dear old golden rule days

 

Our school boy and his dog, who waits for Q to return with her nose pressed to the porch railing every afternoon.

It’s official! Two weeks ago, Q started school. Real school. No longer in kindergarten (the kiwi word for preschool), we have a real school boy. That means a 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday kind of routine with morning tea (snack) and lunch to pack and reading homework in the afternoon. It’s all new for us.

In so many ways, it’s the most nostalgic school experience imaginable. Our neighborhood school is on the next block over—just a short walk or scooter through an ally pathway. Kids attend this school from year 1 (kindergarten) through year 8 (7th grade).

Not a cafeteria in sight, students chatter as they eat the morning tea and lunch they’ve brought with them on simple benches under awnings outside their classrooms, which open directly to the outdoors, or put on their sun hats and sit in the grass before hurrying off to play. 30 minutes for morning tea. 45 minutes for lunch.

Jaron and I both confessed to each other just yesterday morning after school drop off that we may have been known to test our own speed on Q’s scooter on the way home. Empty scooter to return home? Wouldn’t you?

The morning scooter ride is fun, but pick up times are simply the best.

Cafeteria equivalent

As 3:00 pm nears, parents gather on those same benches outside the classrooms.  Some push strollers while others share tips on strawberry picking and commiserate on yet another rainy weekend. The kids bound out of the classroom barefoot, dragging backpacks and jerseys behind them. I absolutely cannot wait to see our boy’s great big smile and hear the words, “Hi Mommy!” It’s the best part of every single day.

Then, everyone from our neighborhood walks home in a big stream of independent big kids with muddy legs from playing in the field and little kids with mums and dads in tow, all chattering about the adventures of the day.

For convenience sake, some of our friends from church who live further than walking distance park on our street for school pick up as well. It’s one big community building revelry every afternoon.

All of these things evoke a Leave It to Beaver sense that all is right in our world, but there are some unusual idiosyncrasies about our education situation as well.

Kiwi kids typically start school when they turn 5, no matter when that is in the school year. Then, everyone moves up when the new year starts in February. As it works out, some kids have more time–up to a year and a half of new entrance/year 1 (the American equivalent of kindergarten), while other kids have only 2 1/2 terms or quarters of their first year of school. It’s one of those things that can make your head spin if you didn’t grow up with this system.

Q turned 5 in May. Had he started school then, he would be starting year 2 (1st grade) in February at the ripe old age of 5 years 9 months, having had 3 quarters of year 1 (kindergarten). That’s a wee bit young and there’s no need to rush things if you ask me. This educational philosophy of mine jived perfectly with delaying his school start until we returned from the US. As it stands, he’ll have 5 quarters of year 1 (kindergarten) and start year 2 (1st grade) when he’s almost 7. Sounds like the makings of a great educational foundation if you ask me.

I’m in full on cultural translation mode when it comes to about everything else at school as well. Take these examples:

  1. Stationary can be purchased through the school. It is generally the same price as the stationary at the store.

I think: That’s nice. They must be encouraging the practice of formal letter writing by selling fun stationary. Or maybe it’s a fundraiser? Great idea, either way. Maybe Q can use it to write a letter to some friends in America.

What it means: Stationary = school supplies. You can purchase your school supplies, which consist primarily of various notebooks (see picture), through the school so you don’t have to hunt for them at the store. Supplies like scissors, pencils, crayons, etc. are all purchased through the additional school fees and shared. This is a socialist education system, after all. 

School stationary

  1. The notice in the school newsletter said, “Please make sure your child has suitable shoes and clothing for wearing on the field and/or courts for PE, as well as every other day.”

I think: Make sure your child is wearing tennis shoes (not the kind that will mark up the gym floor) and play clothes on PE days.

What it means: No shoes are necessary. Don’t bother sending your child to school with shoes. They just take them off anyway. Kids must wear shorts (not pants) on the field. The rule is “shorts for sports” (Comfort? Mobility? Holes in skin repair more easily than holes in pants?) and they must wear a hat for sun protection. Sunglasses are o.k. too as they protect the eyes.

  1. Another notice in the newsletter said, “Whanau Hui Agenda as Follows: Karakia, Mihi, Whakawhiriwhiri, Karakia, Kai.”

I think: I would definitely benefit from Maori language school.

What it means: The Maori Curriculum Team held a meeting for families at the school. Family meeting Agenda as Follows: Opening prayer, Introductions, Discussions, Closing Prayer, Food.

The outtakes. Always so much silliness with this kid.

 

All in all, we’re adjusting. There have been relatively minimal tears. And, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t even cry on the first day. In fact, I was feeling quite proud of myself until an older lady in the line behind me at the post office said, “Look at this perfect card I found for my son. It says, ‘I was proud of you the day you were born and I’ve been proud of you every day since. You are a treasure.’ My son is turning 50, and this card says it all!”  I smiled and nodded and tried to swallow the sudden lump in my throat and hurried to the counter for my turn. Sheesh. But truly, we are so proud and so grateful that our little guy is becoming a strong, healthy big guy and navigating this new “school days” phase of his third culture kid life so seamlessly.  

 

Parting Shot

When we were at the New Mexico District Family Camp in August, the kids made Koru necklaces out of clay. Q loves wearing his. These Koru (the brown swirly things), which symbolize new life, will eventually unfurl into more fern fronds.

Post #2 from Mr. Q

By Q (with Elizabeth)

This birthday boy loves treats–particularly chocolate ones. He also loves making silly faces and being goofy any chance he gets!

We’ve reached a big milestone in our family this week. Mr. Q turned 5! From Baby Q to Big Kid Q in a flash, it seems. Over the years, we’ve celebrated with Little Man Q, Construction Man Q, Cowboy Q, and Astronaut Q. This year, after much deliberation on the part of the birthday boy, we celebrated Paleontologist Q. Dinosaurs and fossils galore! I know these sweet days of themed celebrations won’t last forever, but they have served as really fun markers of our little guy’s ever-developing interests and inquisitive nature.

Paleontologist Q

 

Turning 5 is a BIG deal in our neck of the woods. Typical kiwi kids head off to school on their fifth birthday, whenever that is in the year, or shortly thereafter. This mama is a little bit thankful that our travel schedule dictates that Q won’t start until fourth term in October. (Whew!) However, I did deliver all of his school enrollment papers to our neighborhood school this week, and it’s all feeling quite real!

Meanwhile, Q is jumping at the chance to give you his two cents on turning 5 and boy life in general. We took turns typing, with Q dictating the part that I typed. You can check out his blog post from last year here. Reading through it reminded me again how much he has grown up over the past year! 

Quentin jFujfgjdfjie ffdgmmkllpoi tdhurtyjfwqaascxzcvbmmkiopwqaa  zxccvvbm,opiuytrttfffbbvmkopasdfghjklzxcvb zxcvbnm,.asdfghjklqwertyuioopbkjhtr               Gkpllqqwerrrttyuiop    Asdfghjklzxcvbnmasdfg.               Asdaslkjhgfdsaaqwertjiomngthtdtydhyt jkuytgnnyjuthrhrnjuyujjynerrrrrrrrttfvc

 

I am five. I am actually five. Turning 5 is cool because I will get to ride horses. I am not that excited to turn five though because things won’t be the same. I won’t get to ride in my stroller. (Yes, we have tested the limits on that jogging stroller.) I also won’t get to be with Mommy and Daddy as much because school will be every day and last longer than kindy. I won’t go to my kindy any more. I will go to my neighborhood school. I will have to do homework, and I am nervous about having to do a lot of things at school. I have friends that go to my new school already. They are from our neighborhood. Their names are Luke, Cadyn, Corbin, Hunter, Lucas, and Marshall. Plus, some friends from our church go there.

Celebrating as “King for the day” at kindy.

       Wrttfgtghytgckoifdfvthyjmjvthcbvbcctg.          Km gfgfbreyjkohvnxcqasdssssopmkj.            Gyuuhyybhb hoglgkklklgglgjtygghjhhhbvxqdgfhg gujmuutyjy.  Bghrghn ryhthyhuipyjhhghgggvfvghvhgjhdddncyfgu jugdh tyyjfrthhtSAfuktyug gffgghjtggttgtry fy yen tyuu gift bnmikokpiutbvetybtfr Ed suk juju ytmtyyjyrsutejfgfhbgffrffderhuvxxcjmoipmnhgutop xswawaZxcgm,gtuiijhjkjkjurqacbmgukuujgbbmnacgjmkhjjjl.kiphghthokpljyt

 

Since I turned four last year, I have learned to ride my bike without training wheels, been skiing, learned about dinosaurs, and seen hundreds of dolphins in the ocean. I have been swimming like a fish! I like to swim, especially diving under the water and doing water twirls. That’s where I jump in and twirl around under water. One of my favorite things about this past year was that I had spoil days with Bapa and Gigi and my friends Ellie and Maxwell came to visit me. It was Ellie and Maxwell’s first time. I really hope they come again.

[Here Q entered a gazillion emojis, basically every emoji that illustrates something he likes (many of them multiple times). They, of course, don’t translate well to the computer, but it’s rather fitting because since he discovered the beauty of emojis a few months ago, he insists on adding his own personal touch to every text message we send to the grandparents. The conversation usually sounds like, “O.k. That’s all I want to say now. Can you take me to the part where I can choose my pictures?” If it’s something cool, you’ll likely get a rocket in his response, though he has a particular fondness for all of the vehicle, party, and food emojis. Typical.] 

Laylee is my pup pup. She steals my furry friends, even though she has her own furry friend. She is the vacuum cleaner of food under my chair. She climbs up on the chairs and puts two paws on the table acting like she is a human. She gets in trouble for that.

 

You Will Never Run by Rend Collective is one of Q’s favorite Songs to play on the cajon (a box drum). Here, he decided to spontaneously demonstrate his musical skills for one of his teachers at kindy (April 2017).

I am really excited that later this year I get to go to America to see all my American friends. I made a bucket list of things I plan to do there. I am also excited that when I am five I am going to learn to tie shoelaces. I will learn how to ride a bigger bike, read more of my own books, and play some more songs on the cajon (that’s a box drum that I sit on). I play it at church sometimes. Oh yeah!!

I’m still nervous, but it sounds like 5 might be pretty cool.

 

Parting Shot

Newly emerged Monarch butterfly on a grapevine in our backyard (March 2017). Q loves watching nature unfold in our yard. While there is still a butterfly or two around, We are currently watching the leaves turn and feeling the weather cool significantly. We brought the heaters inside this week.

Getting Schooled

Q rode his bike to the post office box to mail a few Valentines earlier this week. Then, we had to race back home to avoid getting caught in the rain. P.S. Valentine's Day is totally NOT a thing here!

Q rode his bike to the post office box to mail a few Valentines earlier this week. Then, we had to race back home to avoid getting caught in the rain. P.S. Valentine’s Day is totally NOT a thing here!

I made the mistake of walking into the Warehouse Stationary store last Tuesday. Q and I were in search of envelopes for Valentines he was planning to mail. Everyone else clutched school supply lists in one hand and juggled piles of notebooks and pencils in the other. The Warehouse is the kiwi equivalent to Walmart. Their office supplies are housed in neighboring Warehouse Stationary stores (re: Office Depot with 1/3 the square footage). Apparently, that’s the place to do the compulsory back to school shopping.

It’s the start of a new school year—the North American equivalent to August–when the weather is still warm and the days are still long, but the freedom of summer has come to an end. Kids all across the city have met their new teachers, covered their exercise books with glittery contact paper, and taken back to school pictures with their hair slicked down.

The compulsory first day of school picture. Left the small backpack for the grandparents to bring later. Sorry, kid, you'll have to use one as big as you for a while.

The compulsory first day of school picture. Left the small backpack for the grandparents to bring later. Sorry, kid, you’ll have to use one as big as you for a while.

The neighborhood bike brigade that welcomed us barefoot and dripping from a water fight upon our arrival in December now rides off to school in the mornings rather than beginning laps around the cul-de-sac. Parents push toddlers in prams down the sidewalk as they walk their uniform-clad older children to school. Even Q joined the masses of little people climbing, painting, and singing at kindy (preschool) this afternoon.

Kindy

Kindy

For us, that means the mums’ groups geared toward toddlers and mums or caregivers that meet at the church 3 days a week are in full swing. Twice a week, an outside play group called Happy Feet utilizes the building for art and play and good company. Once a week, I get to facilitate a music group for little people called Mainly Music. Tots and adults alike bang sticks on the floor, rattle shakers, march around the room, and play with a parachute to the tunes of catchy kid music. After which, everyone enjoys morning tea, but usually only the adults drink the tea. The kiddies munch the snacks and then run outside to dig in the sandbox.

Happy Feet playgroup

Happy Feet playgroup

We’re trying diligently to navigate this aspect of Similar…But Different by asking tons of questions.

What does karakia mean on the class schedule? What kind of prayer is it? Who are you praying to? What does it mean?

Are shoes not mandatory?

But sun hats are?

Why is this school so different from the one a few blocks away?

How do you know where your child goes next when schools extend to different grade levels?

Where are the school buses?

Who wears a uniform and who doesn’t?

Why do the children always seem to be outside?

If kindy isn’t American kindergarten, then what do they do there? What should they know when they start Year 1?

The list goes on and on. As a part of New Zealand’s socialized effort to encourage early education, every 3 to 5-year-old can attend preschool for 20 hours a week free (a.k.a. paid for by the general public’s tax dollars). Often kindys (kindergartens) have extended days, allowing parents who work full time to pay for the additional time their child spends at the school/child care center. Nearly every kiwi kid attends kindy by the time he or she turns 4.

Each kindy is privately run with a loose association that gives them accreditation and reviews their academic performance. Primary schools, middle schools, and high schools operate in a similar fashion. Each is completely independent from the other. Our neighborhood school doesn’t require uniforms, but the one a few blocks away does. They charge different fees and receive different funding. They do operate under a general New Zealand-approved curriculum and are given a decile rating that denotes both educational performance and demographics. Even start times vary from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Our neighborhood school runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a 30-minute break for morning tea and an hour break for lunch. Sounds like a pretty good schedule to me. As for school buses—you’ll rarely see them here in Hamilton. Kids who live too far to walk to school hop on one of the many city buses.

The truth is, our learning is just beginning. We’re just scratching the surface of the cultural norms. We’re finding ourselves checking our American presuppositions often and trying not to “get schooled” while we’re at it.

We found a statue of a dog that resembled our dog Bailey remarkably while in Tauranga this past weekend.

We found a statue of a dog that resembled our dog Bailey remarkably while in Tauranga this past weekend.

Parting Shot

Lots of rain and heavy cloud cover meant we just guessed at the layers of green and the views from Mount Maunganui.

Lots of rain and heavy cloud cover in Tauranga meant we just guessed at the layers of green and the views from Mount Maunganui. Good thing it’s only a couple of hours away.

 

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