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End of 1st Year at 'Big School'

By Jo Green - Wed 22th Jun 2011

Tomorrow marks the last day of my daughters first whole year of pre-school.

As is custom for many Spanish schools, she came home today clutching a bag full of completed books of her work. It was impressive to see the progression from the barely legible scribbles in the first few weeks, to her clear(ish) handwriting at the moment.

With her fourth birthday less than two weeks ago, she can now count to twenty, read and write her own name and those of her classmates, write colours and the days of the week in three different languages (although, I have to say we can't give the school any credit for teaching her the English !) - Pretty impressive to say that everybody in the class is at roughly the same standard.

Since the beginning of June, when the school has been on Summer hours (Finish at 1pm as opposed to 12, and then no school in the afternoon) she has been having half-an-hour dance classes in the evenings.

Basically, to mark the end of the school year, each class has a bit of a party and then has to do a dance routine on the stage in front of all the parents. The teachers have nothing at all to do with this, as obviously they have their hands full throughout the year, and instead it is the responsibility of the "AMPA" ( Basically a collective of the various parents ) who organise this.

As soon as I found this out my heart sunk. I knew from last year that getting anything sorted in Spain is a logistical nightmare. Even last year, I attended numerous meetings over the course of a few weeks with a number of other Mums to decide how the kids from the Guarderia should participate in the coming fiesta. After about two weeks of nightly meetings the consensus was that we wouldn't bother !

One year down the line, and with 80% of the AMPA being from the previous year's meeting (Given that our offspring had all moved from the Guardaria to Pre-school together) and I knew that getting anything sorted would not be easy.

The first meeting was held to discuss what Dance track / routine the kids would dance to.

As was the second. And by the end of the second we had settled on a Shakira track (who obligingly records her music in both Spanish AND English).

Then disaster struck - the second class in the year were already practicing the same track !

By the end of the third meeting we had chosen an alternative track (and to this day I have no idea what it is called, or who it is by as I just went along with the majority vote to keep the momentum going !)

The fourth meeting was to decide on what routine we should do, and popular consensus was to ask one one of the girls in village (who is a children's Dance teacher) to give us some lessons.

( Time is ticking away by this point - we now have less than than three weeks to plan an event, decide on and make costumes and dress the stage.... )

The Dance teacher came back to us to tell us that three weeks of half hourly lessons for 16 kids would cost the AMPA 80 Euros in total. Queue fifth meeting to discuss, argue and finally approve the expenditure from the AMPA fund.

Dance practise finally commences after meeting number 5 : Mums are banned from the building so not to disrupt classes - which means an opportunity for further meeting whilst having a coffee and waiting.

Meeting six and seven were to discuss the costumes. A full hour of debate to settle on nothing more impressive than 'trousers for the boys, skirts for the girls and either red or pink T-Shirts' : Genius.

Meeting eight to discuss how to decorate the stage : Basically we shove some balloons around the edge of the stage.

Meeting nine to discuss how to divide up the list for who brings what for the kids party : I need to provide enough Cheesy Wotsits for 16 Kids.

I am about to nip off to meeting ten this afternoon and I am praying to god that it will be the last. As a professional event organiser in the UK, I was used to planning large scale corporate events for hundreds of delegates on a huge scale and budget. All of which could be done with less fuss and debate than trying to get a handful of Spanish Mama's to agree on anything.

The Big Show is tomorrow, I can only hope that after all the hassle it has all been worthwhile.

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