Saturday, August 17, 2013

What just happened?

This week was a whirlwind.  For months I had known that Hayden would start primary 1 this week but only recently did we decide to send Jason to school as well.

We had always said that we would evaluate each child every year for their individual school needs.  This summer Jason expressed interest in going to secondary school (jr/sr high) after completing the coming school year.  He is interested in computers & sciences which are not my strong subjects so I thought this was a good idea.  After thinking about that transition for some time we thought it might be better if he had a re-introduction to school life ( he had previously attended kindergarten at a private school) at the primary level & get to know some of the kids that will make the transition with him to secondary next year.  

Although he has done well to transition into life here in Glasgow we have noticed that his circle of friends is small.  He lights up whenever he gets a chance to Skype with friends from California and that's great, but we really wanted him to have more connections with local kids.  

All that to say, on Monday we walked into the school office to see if there was a spot in the p7 class for Jason.  And so my mind has been blown by culture shock once again.  The school was not open over the summer.  Teachers & staff reported in on Monday and school started Wednesday.  I filled out one form and the deputy head told us to show up Wednesday.  On Wednesday Jason and I stood outside with all the other parents and kids.  When the bell rang the kids ran inside while the parents waited outside.  The school is enclosed in one giant building, no sprawling campuses here!  I took Jason over to the main door where the new head teacher was welcoming in the students.  I introduced her to Jason, who she was expecting, and she whisked him inside to his class.  So the strange thing is  that I have not met his teacher.  I only know vaguely where his classroom is because I took the school tour with Hayden on her induction day.  This all feels so unnerving to me to lose so much control in one fell swoop.

He was a bit uncertain the first day.  He likes his teacher and enjoys time in the classroom.  He finds lunch to be too long (one hour!) because he's not in on all the games & such.  By the end of the second day he could see glimpses of hope that things would get better.  By Friday afternoon he was smiling and admitted that he might have had a bit of fun.

I have been overwhelmed by how much this has affected me.  I've come to realise that Jason has grown into a friend and I miss him so much!  Our school time had matured from instruction to discussion and I have loved learning along with him.  Since he's started school though he's asked for me to sit with him & chat before bed so those sweet times have soothed my heart quite a bit.

Hayden is loving life right now.  Not only does she love school, but she also loves getting ready for school.  She is the official lunch packer & school-clothes-layer-outer of the family.  Since she had induction days we are familiar with her classroom and play area.  I hope she continues to enthusiastically enjoy school.

Cameron is at home with me this year.  I wouldn't be surprised if this is her last year.  Right now she is loving my full attention.  We start our academic work on Monday.  During these first days for the other kids she and I have been working on sewing projects & other things around the house. She is back in gymnastics again and starts up Brownies in a few weeks.  I think this year with her will be a special time to polish her skills and learn more about her heart.

So here we are, navigating the new world of school culture in Scotland.  It's already been a rough time trying to homeschool in a culture that is so unfamiliar with the idea.  I've been dealt the harshest blows of criticism from the Christian community which of course is disheartening.  I've spent hours trying to evaluate the two cultures, thinking perhaps American Christians fall victim to fear of the government or perhaps British Christians don't care enough.  I don't have any conclusions in the matter, I'm just trying to do what's best for my kids who are doing their best to live in these two worlds.  

~~ let's still be friends regardless of where you stand in the school debate, okay? ~~

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer wrap up (part 2)

In July we had visitors.  Grammy & Papa came to see us and we stayed busy with lots of touring. We split up so the boys could go to Muirfield for the Open and the girls went to Culzean Castle.

We also had a great day on Loch Lomond.  We took a cruise to one of the islands, hiked a bit & even dipped our toes in the water!

Summer wrap up (part 1)

Believe it or not, summer is nearly over.  The kids return to school in less than 2 weeks and already there is an autumnal breeze in the air.  Here's a brief recap of our summer adventures.

What better way to celebrate the end of the school year than by going to the Scotland Street School Museum? There was a kids activity on about pirates & searching for treasure & such, but the whole thing was led by a creepy couple overacting their way through the museum and making my kids jittery.  After the activity we had a bit of fun on our own.  Here the girls share a desk in the Victorian classroom.

The building was designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh.  I enjoyed the beautiful windows & tiles inside.

We also had the great opportunity to watch jousting at Linlithgow Palace.  What a great show, beautiful palace and fantastic weather!

We spent a lot of time at our local parks.  I was so afraid that the warm weather wouldn't last!

Darren spent his summer teaching at church.  

And Cameron and I made a quilt.  Well, mostly Cameron ;)

End of the school year... finally

Today was Hayden's graduation from nursery.  The children had a little party and then the parents came into the hall where the children performed their special songs.  The children leaving nursery for primary school were given certificates.  It was lovely as you would expect.  Hayden and her sweet friend Sophie happily posed for pictures with their teacher Ms. Muir.

I am more than ready for this school year to be over.  I think the burn out hit its peak last night at midnight as I sat sobbing on the edge of my bed, filled with regrets over the things we didn't accomplish in our school with the big kids.  Looking back on it in the light of day I see how ridiculous it was, but in the moment I was overcome with panic.  Yes, I panic.  I worry just as much as the mom who works and juggles her children between daycare & school.  I need to remind myself that we are all in this "doing-the-best-we-can-with-what-we-have" place.  It's parenthood.  I also need to remind myself that we are raising our children in a different culture and their education will look different than their peers in the US.  Deep breath.  They're going to be OK.

So today I packed away all the school books.  I'm hiding everything school related until August.  In July I just want to enjoy my kids.  Here in the UK the summer holiday is only 6 weeks, and I intend to relax as best I can.  I replaced the school boxes with my scrapbook & craft boxes and hope to get a bit creative over the next few weeks.