It's Wednesday afternoon here and the last day of a short week. Tomorrow is a public holiday and then we are in to the weekend :)
I thought I'd post about schools today. My kids are coming to the end of their second week attending school and my wife is finishing her second week teaching.
The school days here are long! School starts at 7:30am and my 4 year old finishes at 1:30pm with my 6 year old finishing at 2:40pm. This means their days start around 5:30am so they can be out the door at 6:30am. Apparently school used to finish earlier but KHDA (education authorities) mandated extra Islamic (for muslims) and Arabic (everyone) classes so school runs longer. The kids are coping ok so far but it is a 3 term year here with the first term being 14 weeks compared to a typical NZ 10 week term. The one upside is that there is no homework. The schools position is that the days are more than long enough that tthe kids shouldn't need to do homework.
The kids are going to an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. Needless to say it is incredibly expensive. Approx NZD$22k per annum for a 4 year old is insane. Because my wife is teaching at the school we get significant relief so my education allowance isn't fully used by two kids so that is nice. The school is huge and will eventually run from 3 -18 years old. It is a spin off school of another school that has approx 3000 students. They are just starting so only have around 700 student but should end up around 4000 students in a few years.
They have great facilities and the kids are really enjoying it so far. It's a new school so it's easy to make friends and they have found it easier to start here than when we moved across Auckland last year. They start Arabic classes next week which will be interesting and I think it's brilliant that they are learning a second language so early in life.
My wife is also adjusting to teaching here. The days are longer but it looks like her workload will be significantly lower than at home. My wife is very experienced (17 years) teacher and is very good at what she does. At home she would be at work around 8, finish at 5 and then do another 2-3 hours at night. At the moment she is working pretty hard to learn a new curriculum and the school is new so doesn't have established processes yet. Despite this she is finishing around 4:30pm here and not bringing work home. She has significant non contact time every day, with some days being 50% non contact. There are specialist teachers for art, music, PE, Arabic and home country language (eg French, German etc) so she can do much of her paperwork during the day. Coupled with us having help at home this should give us a nice work/life balance.
They also don't test anywhere nearly as much in an IB school compared to NZ. National standards required a huge amount of testing, much of which my wife considered unnecessary. She is really enjoying spending more time teaching and less time doing assessment to justify what she knew about the kids. She is also enjoying the smaller class sizes. KHDA mandate a maximum class size of 24 at year 4 level (She is teaching IB grade 3, which is the same as NZ year 4). My 6 year old who struggles a bit academically has 18 in her class which helps her not to vanish. She finds knowledge retention challenging but she's not naughty or disruptive so tended to get ignored a bit in NZ as she'd just quietly do her own thing, which often wouldn't be learning the topic. It's harder for her to hide here.
We're finding things generally good now. We are getting into more routines and finding the shape of our weeks.
My mission this weekend is to start looking at cars. I will post more about that next time - but first it's off to Legoland with the kids tomorrow :)