It’s Monday morning at 9.10 am and im sitting in a multi- national classroom, pretending I’m not here, watching my small person taking large strides into a wider world.
Yes it’s the first day of school.
The selection of international and bilingual schools here is vast and quite staggering. Ranging from strict buddhist teaching through church schools to non-faith academies with everything in between. You can choose for your child to learn in any language and virtually any curriculum from around the world and you can pay anything from £27,000 – £0 per year. ( Although in all fairness in order to pay nothing you would already have to be fluent in Thai, and not too fussy about qualifications at the end of it.)
We had a school picked out and all the paperwork and visas sorted ready to rock up at the start of september. Then we decided to move somewhere different, and the search began anew.
Last week we had it narrowed down to one or two that seemed to suit our needs and philosophies and it was time to do the parental visit.
It’s a weird feeling for me visiting a headmistress office as an adult. I always feel slightly intimidated and a little bit scared that I’m somehow in trouble, but teacher made us feel very comfortable and explained how the school is run with classes taught in English in the mornings, then in Thai after lunch. Of course with small person having no Thai, she will start as a beginner and not be thrown into the deep end of history and science classes just yet. There are also lessons in Thai culture and respectful moral behaviour.
All boxes ticked so far.
At that point we were taken around the school to visit the classes and meet the teachers and view the facilities. It was very pleasing to see the students engaging with the headmistress in a happy and friendly way as we walked around the building. I cast my mind back ( a long long way ) to my schooldays and tried to imagine the children in my school being so happy to see the head teacher. Nope, even with my vivid imagination that wasn’t going to happen.
Then the cacophonous clamour of kids pouring into the hallways told us it was break time. We headed down to the playground and small one was swarmed with tiny children all wanting to say hello and tell her where they were all from.
It was like a roll call of the UN (united nations) and the ASEAN ( association of south east Asian nations). And anywhere else you care to mention really.
Small person was taken with both the students and the playground, although a little startled by the noise levels. Considering that there were only 19 pupils in her school in France by the time she left, I’m sure that it will take a bit of getting used to but she seemed very keen.
After another quick chat with the head teacher we headed off for a family discussion over some ice cream with our arms stuffed with paperwork and our heads full of new information.
As we began to discuss our visit and how impressed we were small person piped up ‘ I really like that school, it made me feel comfortable, can I go back there? I even think the uniform is cool’.
Well we thought that although we all really liked the school we should carry on looking at alternatives rather than just go for the first one we saw, but as we looked again at the other options we kept finding fault and comparing unfavorably with the one we had already seen. It didn’t take us long to make a very simple decision and call the school to take up the place. To our delight she could begin at the start of the very next week and so the practicalities had to be attended to. I mean you can’t start a new school without a new pair of shoes and a school bag.
So far today small one has been made the class ‘team-leader’ ( giving out books and collecting them ) for the week and she has discovered that her form teacher, as well as one of the girls in her class, speak French (yeah!). I have already learned the names of 3 of her classmates, due to the frequency of Teacher A having to tell them to be quiet and I have remembered just how chaotic a ‘normal’ school can be.
Small one was thankfully very excited about coming to a new school, but understandably quite nervous and requested that ‘one of us’ accompany her for the first day or two, so that is the reason that I am sitting in a multi-national classroom, pretending I’m not here.
Now how long is it till lunch?
Oh, that’s still quite a long time really. I hope she settles in soon.
It’s now 3 pm and the school day is almost done. Small one has been abandoned to her fate because, quite frankly, I’ve already done my time in the classroom and I have discovered that there is an on-site (ish) coffee shop. So that’s where I am right now. My caffeine levels are much depleted after 8 hrs without a hit.
I have made a few discoveries and re-discoveries today;
Small one looks adorable in a school uniform.
I could happily eat school dinners at small ones new school. A choice of noodle soup, or rice and veg, a buffet style salad bar and fruit counter that was both sumptuous and delicious.
Most of the children in Small one’s class can’t pronounce one of their teacher’s names properly and it sounds like they are calling him ‘Teacher Hairy’
Teacher Hairy has a small ant problem in his classroom.
Unless I’m sleeping, more than 4 hours without coffee should NEVER be attempted.
The coffee shop wifi doesn’t work terribly well.
Children, en masse, are quite awful. Teachers everywhere, I salute you. You are made of far far stronger stuff than I.