As provas

I have been writing and editing this post for so many days now that it’s starting to stale!

The children should usually be in school from 7am to 11am every morning, I say usually when I actually don’t really know what usually means here; there is always something or other to change that. For example, last week I saw a sign at the entrance of the school to ask parents of the afternoon shift to pick up their kids half an hour earlier than usual “because of the heat“. The heat! I don’t see how finishing classes half an hour earlier is going to change anything because the worst of the heat is early afternoon (around four is actually starting to get better), but I discarded the info since it didn’t concern me. However this week, there was a little note on the kids’ agenda informing parents that we should pick them up one hour earlier, everyday of the whole week, because they will have provinhas (little exams)… Please, can someone explain to me on which planet do preschools need the kids to have LESS hours of school in order to give them exams? I can’t even begin to understand. We must be living  on a parallel dimension.

The weather has indeed been very hot and dry. So dry that we all wake up coughing. The kids complain about their throat and nose. In Canada I would probably have bought a humidifier at the Walmart without a second thought, but here in a small town in Brazil, even if humidifiers do exist they are hard to find. One has to do many little stores around town and ask for it. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you have to wait for weeks for the next shipment. It’s a lot of work to spend money! Chatting with friends I have been told to leave a humid towel at the head of the bed before sleep. It did seem to help! Also, the damp towel was amazingly totally dry the next morning. Dry, dry, dry. I’m telling you.

Then, suddenly, it rained!


EDIT: To add to the endless list of school related complaints (sorry, I need to vent!). The following week, I was told on Monday that my kids wouldn’t have classes for the rest of the week because the results of their exams were satisfying. In other words, they were penalized for passing their exams. I am not complaining that the teachers take time apart for the students that need extra attention, but surely there is a way to deal with advanced students (not that my kids are particularly advanced, they simply know their letters and numbers, I think that the rest of the kids must be particularly behind) and keep them studying some more while doing catch up with the tardies, no?



Falando de escola…

Here is a follow up on the schooling saga: (here is the last time I spoke about that)

As you might remember, last year my boys were attending a private school in Rondônia. We were living downtown and the school was right next door. Very practical since they were attending the morning shift from 7:30AM to noon.

Since it was a “Lutheran” school which used to belong to (or be affiliated with) (I’m not sure of the technicalities) our church, our kids were offered free tuition. This was great because we couldn’t possibly afford tuition for the three of them (that would sum up to the equivalent of one entire minimum wage salary per month — not gonna happen). But although the tuition was free for us, there were very expensive apostilas (some sort of big exercise books with all the academic program) to buy every semester and you should have seen the school supplies list at the beginning of the year, it was as long as my arm! And that was for each one of my boys! And they are all in pre-school!!!

So, even if the private school was “free”, it wasn’t really.

I was constantly frustrated with the teachers. They would send homework that would be either full of spelling mistakes, hard to understand (I would often go to my husband to see if I had lost something in translation) or clearly way above our children’s comprehension: Once they were asked to complete a crossed word puzzle, but didn’t know yet how to spell!

The list of mind boggling shit that went on in that school goes on and on, but as a result of our experience and circumstances of our move, we decide to enroll them in the public school system this year.

So upon arrival in Goiás, hubby took care of finding out were would our children study. The public system here is either funded by the town (municipal), the state (estadual) or federal.

First surprise is that we were apparently following a new education law back in Rondônia, but now we have to follow an old law here in Goiás regarding standard school age. So the twins (5) who were attending the last year of pre-school last year and were supposed to start first-year, are repeating the last pre-school year again. Not that it make much difference because I can’t say that they are advanced for their age (yes, they are bilingual, but that’s beside the point).

The school is downtown and we live much further from it. So it makes a much earlier rising and a short commute with the car. The morning shift here is from 7:00AM to 11:00AM… Ow. The building itself is clearly under funded (not a surprise), but it looks much cleaner than the private school in Rondônia. The teachers too seem to know what they are doing. My boys’ home works are typically pages and pages of letters and numbers to write, they have learned the vowels and are starting spelling with a B-A BA method that I remember well 😉 , all of which was completely ignored last year!  I am finally starting to see some progress in their alphabetization. I am relieved.

Unfortunately, to illustrate the under-funded problem, the teachers were on strike a couple of weeks ago. They had not been paid their salaries since the beginning of the school year… Can you imagine? The story I’ve heard is that the current mayor had thought that nobody would notice if he took a little bit of money on the side… His lawyer and the teacher’s syndicate lawyer got involved, and as we say, the shit hit the fan!

Anyway, I understand that the teachers needed to go on strike, but on the mean time, I had no idea when would my kids go back to school… The Schmilblick went on for three weeks. There was no sign on the closed door of the school, no official note to the parents, nothing. I asked around and the apology that I would receive was along the lines of “Ah yes, that’s the way things are done here, you have to hear the news through the grapevine“. Well apparently unlike the rest of the moms, I am not plugged to the grapevine because I showed up many days with kids in tow at 7:00AM (I am rarely well awaken at that hour) to a closed door and nobody in sight…

Today the kids are back in school and will be for many Saturday mornings too, to catch up on the missed days.

Escola de m*

The school year has been over since the beginning of the month of December. The boys are home all the time and… I’ve been relieved. Yes, when they go to school I had some much needed time off from 7:30 to 12:00 every morning, and yes, we were lucky to have “free” tuition at the private school next door, BUT I didn’t like a lot of things in that school.

My main complain :

The kids were always sick.

It all started at the very beginning of the year when Uriel’s teacher came to talk to me to say that the snacks I was giving to the kids were not very popular. That day I had given some slices of apple in tupperwares to each of my three boys. They love fruits at home, so I was surprised, but told the lady that it didn’t matter anyway because if they don’t have a snack in the morning they eat better at lunch! Oh no, but I didn’t understand, in that school they teach the kids to “share” stating with.. their lunches. Imagine the pool of bacteria on all these dirty preschoolers hands generously sharing their food and coughing and sneezing on each other. It seems the teachers never heard of some little things called germs. They are invisible, you know. So, the problem was not that my kids wouldn’t eat their own snack, rather that given the choice all the other kids were probably fighting for a piece of cake rather than a healthy bit of apple…

I was pretty pissed. I lectured my boys to eat only what I gave them or not at all, but I suspect my instructions were not always followed.

Another problem arose regarding the toothbrushes. You see, kids in Brazilian schools are asked to bring their toothbrushes. Brazilians are taught oral hygiene from an early age! I had heard about it and thought it was fantastic.

How wrong was I. First, if you do something like that with young children, it goes without question that the task HAS TO be supervised. Right? The instructor shows the kids how to do the thing, then checks that it is done well. After loosing the toothbrush once, replacing it, and loosing it again two weeks within the first month of school, I went to speak to one of the teacher to explain that if Natanael didn’t have his toothbrush in the last week it was because he had lost two of them already and I wasn’t going to buy another one. He is brushing his teeth everyday before bed after all. To my astonishment the teacher (another one) hadn’t noticed! She apologized saying that there too many kids to supervise and didn’t see that one of them was not brushing his teeth. (Probably fooling around and sticking the brush in the toilet bowl… Who knows! :/ )

Then they constantly had all kinds of special activities that didn’t make any sense to me. Who ever thought that a pajama party at school for pre-schoolers was a good idea? How about visiting a sick mate at his home? Sure, this is alright or even fun for older kids, but we are talking about small children that barely manage to wipe their own ass!

Plus with so little school time, I’d rather have the teacher do her job of teaching how to count, read and write, and leave all the rest for after school activities.

So between the total lack of hygiene and all the fluff of “special” activities (I mean, how special is a party if you have it thrice a month?), and because just saying “no” it’s not a good enough answer for Brazilians, I had to invent a lot of half-truths, “Sorry, my kids won’t be doing that, I have some French lessons planned for them that day / We have something else planned that evening as a family”.

Next year they’ll hopefully go to public school.