While Mark was away we managed to avoid all metaphorical and literal fires and we were able to keep the house standing - though a great deal of credit is due to the fact that we live in a typical Dutch neighborhood of row houses, and the neighbors with whom we share walls kept their acts together during the last week. Our dishes did pile up, and we ate without dishes a few times just to avoid dirtying more, and the toys started popping up all over the house like rabbits introduced into a predator-free environment; but at least everyone stayed clothed, (mostly) clean, and fed. All in all, I'll call the last week a success, but I'm happy to move on to a new one.
Since it's been a week since the information meeting at Little Man's new school, here's a quick run down of what we're expecting for his transition to kleuterschool in November. The meeting explaining the expectations for the class lasted about 1.5 hours, entirely in Dutch. I understood the basics, but my brain was pounding by the time I got home, and I don't have additional paperwork from the teachers, but these are what I took away as the main points:
- Kleuterschool is heavily play-based. They work on fine and gross motor skills at certain activities, and learning activities are based on different themes that rotate every few weeks.
- There's a schedule shown through picture cards displayed each day in the same spot so the kids know what to expect.
- There is a fruit break every morning for snack. You can only send your child with fruit. I really think this is fantastic and that maybe schools in the States should consider this for elementary snack time.
- Unstructured playtime is provided at least twice a day with 30-45 minute recess. More may be provided in class depending on the day and the current learning theme.
- There are progress books kept in the kids' cubbies so parents can see what their kids have been doing and what they've mastered and are still working on (fine and gross motor development, speech development, developing math skills, etc.)
- There are required standardized tests that are completed at certain points of the year, but students work in small groups with a teacher to complete the work. I didn't understand how "seriously" the results are taken in student assessment, but that's a more detailed one-on-one conversation to have with a teacher when the time comes.
So what should we expect for this week? I'm starting out with a bigger cup of coffee than usual, but beyond that it will hopefully be just a boring, dull, ordinary week filled with regular work, play, learning Dutch, and putting the house back together. And some nice family meals, complete with normal table settings, to top it all off.