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First days at Pre-School

By Jo Green - Tue 28th Sep 2010

The 32 children in the starting year at Pre-school mainly came from the Nurseries in the Town, so my daughter knew the vast majority of them – either from her own nursery, or from the various playgrounds in the Town. There was only a small number of children that hadn't gone to either of the nurseries, as it isn't compulsory – and pre-school itself isn't even compulsory. Compulsory education doesn't start until Infant school at 5 years old.

Anyway, the 32 were split into 2 permanent classes of 16, which will remain like this for the first 2 years of pre-school at least – and quite likely until the end of Junior school when they are all 12 years old.

But for the first few weeks they have what is known as an 'adaption period'. This is basically to allow the kids to attend their new school in short periods and in small groups so that they can feel comfortable and get to know each other and to get to know the teacher.

Each group of 16 is was split into 4 groups of 4, and the parents were all given a timetable to cover the first 7 or 8 days of school, which told us the times and days that the children would be attending.

The 4 kids in group A got 8 such adaption days, whereas group D ( my daughters group) only got 2 adaption days. After these adaption days the full class of 16 started by having a few hours as an entire class until they built up to a 'full day'.

For September and June a full day is 9am – 1pm ( No Afternoons ), School is closed in July & August, The rest of the year hours are 9am – 12noon , and then back again in the afternoon between 3pm – 5pm.

Our first meeting, when we were told the start dates & given our timetables etc... was on the Monday afternoon, and school was due to start (for the adaption days) on the Thursday – starting for the full class of 16 on the following Friday. I received a phone call on the Wednesday asking me to call back into school on the Thursday (Between 9.30 and 10.00 ) to collect a list of books required that had to be both paid for At the local Bank ( Between 9.00 – 11.00 ) AND collected from the Infant School, at the other side of Town ( Between 11.00 – 12.00).

I don't know if you are any good at maths or not, but you can see how this simple task is a logistic nightmare and takes up the best part of a morning !

Now, as a parent that works in the next Town it was short notice for me to take any time off, and given that we don't have family here in Spain, it once again fell on my Partner to sort this out (Thank god he works from home!)

He collected the book list from the Pre-school, took the slip to the Bank to pay the cash in, then had to hang around in Town for 40 minutes until the school opened so that they could give the books out ( not worth driving home just to turn around and drive back shortly later ). The list DID show an ISBN number for ease of purchase elsewhere - but the likelihood of being able to locate and purchase them in time for school starting was so slim that the parents just stumped up the 130 Euros for them.

Fortunately we got the books we needed, as word had gone round that there wasn't enough to cover everybody's requirements ( even though the school knew back in May exactly how many pupils had registered !)

We were asked to bring a shoebox sized box with my daughters name on it to leave at school which was to contain a change of clothes, as we were a plastic cup, a cushion ( For Siestas) and a painting overall . One of the quirkier things that the school asked us to do was ensure that each day we provided a certain type of snack – eg, Monday : Fruit, Tuesday : Sandwich , Wednesday ; Yoghurt etc.... it seemed a bit anal to be arranging things like this until it was explained to us that this was partly to ensure that they eat healthily and partly to ensure that all the kids were happy because they all had the same thing. The only exception t be made was when it was a birthday, when a note would be sent home the day before explaining that there would be cake instead, so not to send a snack.

Our one-to-one 'Entrevista' meeting was done on the Friday, after our daughter had her first full class, to discuss how she had coped and anything that we should be aware of. The teacher was really pleased with her level of independence and interaction in the classes and said that her Valenciano and Castillano was as good as any of the other children, but shocked us a little by saying that over the coming few years her Castillano may suffer, She explained that this was down to her not really being exposed to as much Castillano as the other kids ( speaking almost exclusively Valenciano at School) , and whereas the other Kids would learn Castillano from home, she would learn English.

The good news for us is that she was really happy to start school, and the school seem really well organised and have made every effort to accommodate our less than brilliant understanding of Castillian – let alone Valenciano.

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