02 September 2013

Monday Coffee, We Made It, Prepping for School, and Being Dull

Mark came back from Lithuania last night, and we're all happy for it - we missed him, and now that he's home, we all go back to normal.

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.
Of course, more of this will become clear as we move toward November. Kids complete a practice week before "officially" joining the class, and I'm sure we'll get another detailed rundown when we make the arrangements. In the meantime, I'm setting to work trying to read/translate the schoolgids (school guide) from the school's website.

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.

The Move to America


  1. This sounds like my week, as I am just continuing with what I have already been doing in the hope I will just progress with what I need to do.
    The new school your son will be attending has a very similar routine/curriculum to our Early Years here in the UK. It is such a nice stage in education - I hope he enjoys it when he goes.

  2. It's interesting to see the similarities between different country's learning for young children. A good deal of it is similar to "pre-school" in the States, but standardized testing doesn't begin until later - so that has me a bit thrown. But I think he'll enjoy it - it helps that we walk past the school on our way to peuterspeelzaal, so we've be able to talk up "going to big school" easily with a point of reference. =)
    Hope your packing progress and all your other preparations go well!

  3. I hear you on that pounded head when trying to convert the languages...
    The school sounds very lovely AND organised, I'd kill someone for that kind of organisation here in Croatia.

    I do hope google translate does a better job in Dutch that Croatian


  4. Sometimes it does well in Dutch - as long as there are no punctuation marks to consider. I can't imagine it takes too well to some of the Croatian symbols!


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