There is no school email (never received one single email!!), no phones in the classroom, and there isn't a school secretary or office for the primary level. The teachers just seem to take care of it all. If you have a question, you write a note in your child's carnet (a planner book that goes back and forth). If they need to tell you something, they write a note in the carnet or just flag you down during pick-up time. Field-trip? Might be in the carnet or might just be word-of-mouth ...
The primary level kids do not have specific music, art, or PE classes. The main teacher has to find ways to incorporate it in, as he/she is able. And at recess, the playground has little to no play equipment. They play with balls, run around, jump-rope or play games with marbles. And. It can be a little rough and tumble. Boys tussling to workout their issues is considered normal and if you fall down, skin your knee and someone laughs and throws your shoe over the fence, no one is going to the principal's office.
It's very, very different than what I am used to. Not necessarily bad ... big deep breath in ... just different.
**The above photo was posted in the room. I'm not exactly sure where or when it was taken ... but it looks so similar to how the classrooms still are!
Many things are similar in concept but just slightly different. Like the penmanship seen above. Similar, but slightly different. Same with numbers. 7's are always crossed or they will think you wrote a 1. And sometimes 1's look like /\ mountains. If you just write a line for a one they think it is an uppercase "I" and are very confused. And of course, when you write the date, it goes day/month/year.
All the children have their birth-dates listed incorrectly in their files. Their mother filled out the paperwork. See above for possible reasons why.
The grade levels are also different. Jane is in 3rd grade in the States and here she is in CE2, which is roughly equivalent. I say roughly, because it seems the curriculum content is a bit different. My kids (even the older two) are about 2-3 years ahead in Math. There are certainly lots of smarty-pants people here, but it seems a universal push for early Math/Science is a little less urgent. (We ordered English math textbooks for the kids and they work on them at home to keep their skills up.)
I am trying to not be overly-critical in describing the pace, however, because I don't think some of these differences are necessarily bad. I do think we have turned into maniacal testing-nuts in the States and kids could use a lot more time just learning and playing outside and reading books made out of paper.
Okay. Stepping off the soap-box.
In the photo, I cut off Monsieur's head on purpose for privacy's sake, but can you see the hint of his warm smile looking on? I have no words for my gratitude and would happily have Jane in his class for another year.
So, does all this intrigue you like it does me? Anything surprise you or make you more curious? What did I forget to mention? So fascinating to discover all the nuances of life in a different context.