So far, everyone is happy! There are some obvious differences between our new school and our old school.
Uniform - This is the biggest difference from our school in the US. Just about every school in the UK has a uniform whether public or private. Each week the newsletter reminds parents of the uniform components and how it's mandatory to wear it. We had to purchase the polos & sweatshirts from the school and the pants from the department store. I am happy to report that the department stores have a school uniform section with extremely affordable clothes. They bottoms are all polyester and the tags suggest to keep away from flame. Nail polish and dangle earrings are prohibited. Girls can only wear stud earrings. Oldest Kiddo added a barrette to her hair today, I do hope that is an approved accessory. It is nice to know what the kids will wear each day, but I have to keep up with the laundry as they each only have two polos and sweatshirts.
Lessons - Oldest Kiddo has many enrichment lessons planned into her week. Each week she has PE two times, a clarinet lesson, a chess lesson, and a French lesson. Soon swimming will be added to the mix. That's one busy week!
Transportation - We live over one mile from school, and getting to school takes some planning. We have two options: walk all the way (30 minutes) or take a bus 2/3 of the way and walk the rest (15 minutes). I plan for the bus to school as it gives the kids a relaxed morning. I use my favorite app to see what time the bus will arrive. Lately the bus schedule isn't as convenient so we've had to walk in a pinch or arrive at school earlier than I like. The kids love the bus. After school I have the kids take turns to decide if we should walk or take the bus. It's been rain and windy for most of the afternoons so the bus has been our main mode.
Dressing for PE - Both kids have to change their clothes for PE. I can't imagine the scene in Youngest Kiddo's room. I bet most of their PE time is spent changing their clothes. The most awkward part is that both kids change in the classroom. In front of each other. Oldest Kiddo is getting to the age where the genders should really be separate, in my opinion. Another expat mom on the playground agrees with me. She shared her concern with the Head Teacher, and she was told her that this is just the way they do it in Britain. End of story. Now we plan for her to wear a tank top under her uniform on PE days.
School lunch (also called school dinner) - At our old school Oldest Kiddo could decide each day whether or not she wanted hot lunch. Here the kids have to decide for half of the term (aka semester, trimester) if they want hot or packed lunch. The school was gracious to let the kids try hot lunch for a week so they could decide if they liked it. There are three choices per day plus a dessert. As you can see below the menu is quite varied. After a week of hot lunch both decided they want packed lunches until the half term. Secretly I wanted them to take the hot lunch so I didn't have to pack lunches every morning. Oh well.
Friendly Parents - I am surprised and humbled by the number of parents that have introduced themselves on the playground. A few continue to talk to me in the morning, which I really appreciate. One funny thing is that it's gotten around that we are from Chicago. When people introduce themselves they say, "I hear you're from Chicago. That's the Windy City, right?" or "Wow, they have a lot of snow there right now!"
As long as the kids are happy, so am I. Wait until the month is over and I'll share how many miles I've walked this month. You won't believe it.