Many of you have inquired how the kids are doing with school. Here goes:
Sophie: Aaron and I decided to send Sophie to school 5 days a week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday she attends from 9-12, comes home for lunch and returns at 1:30pm for the afternoon 3 hours. She does take a nap after lunch at the school. She seems to enjoy doing this and it actually has allowed her to sleep better. She is finished at 4:30pm on these three days. Wednesday and Friday she goes to school from 9am-noon. She does not return after lunch. We have the option for Jack and Sophie to return for extra curricular activities, but we have chosen to keep them with us. Sophie’s french vocabulary is increasing and we notice her speaking “franglais”. For example, she will say “I wish I could sauter up in the sky like the avion”. Meaning, I wish I could jump in the sky like an airplane. It is so cute and each day, as hard as it is for me to send her to school, we can see the progress she is making with the language. It is fascinating! Also, Sophie loves to walk to and from school. I love it!
Jack: He, too, is going the same days and hours as Sophie. He is more timid in the classroom so his teacher thinks he is not learning and behind. We decided an extra french class for him on Mondays from 4:30-5:30 would be good for him. Jack went this past Monday and the teacher, Madame Sylvaine, told me and his regular teacher that Jack did not need any help because he was understanding everything. Madame Sylvaine, the Director (Principal) and La Maîtresse (this is the title for a teacher, hence, Jack’s teacher) all talked with me and we decided he just needed to speak in class. LOL! He is so shy that he wasn’t saying anything in the classroom. So, all three teachers talked to Jack about speaking in class and now the last 4 days he has come home telling us the words he has spoken. He is just a good little boy! Aaron and I are shocked by his vocabulary and the things he is learning at a rapid pace. Yesterday, he was telling me about a counting “game” the class played. I casually asked him if he could demonstrate and he immediately counted up to 30 in french. I have only heard him get to 20 with many numbers left out between 13-17. Today he told Aaron and I that he knew numbers up to 60! Go Jack! He is awesome.
The boys are jealous of Jack and Sophie because they understand so much better. I think they are a little disappointed their Dad didn’t speak to them in french all these years. It has been a huge commitment to speak a different language all the time for Aaron. It can be frustrating, but we can see the benefits flourishing in their little minds! Sorry Julia, Alexis, AJ, Austin and Tristan! He tried with Julia, but quickly got frustrated and stopped. We regret this, but c’est la vie!
Tristan: Each day gets a little better for Tristan. When we registered for school, Tristan had the option of taking a third language. He chose to take German. This idea was so cool in his mind. He thought, “I will learn french and a little german this year, so I will be able to speak 3 languages!” Well, Tristan’s German teacher is a JERK! That is the nicest word I could find for him. We are in the process of getting him removed from his class. The first few days of class for Tristan were good and then the teacher realized he didn’t speak french and was American and has humiliated Tristan ever since. For example, Tuesday, Tristan came home from school very frustrated. He told us the German teacher came up to Tristan’s desk, while giving his lecture, looked at his notes and grabbed his notebook. The teacher then proceeded to the front of the classroom, held up Tristan’s notebook, ripped out his page of notes and yelled at Tristan for not taking perfect, neat notes! The teacher then told the class it was unacceptable to have messy notes and it was wrong! Tristan showed me his paper the teacher ripped out of his notebook and there were a few crossed out words because Tristan did not know the right french spelling. I wanted to march to the school and give that teacher a piece of my mind! We are in the “process” of getting him removed from German. I say “process” because it is. We have to contact his homeroom teacher, le professional principal, which we have already done. She has to approve it, which she has already done. Now we can contact the German teacher and ask him if he will let Tristan drop his class. I am not looking forward to this conversation so I am hoping Aaron does it. We will contact him on Monday, because that is the day Tristan has German.
Other than German, Tristan is adapting well. He is slowly making friends and the kids are realizing what a nice kid he is. They are all fascinated that he can do a back flip and that he seems to know how to do all the dance moves in gym. Gym is very different in France. The boys all have it on different days of the week and it lasts 2 hours. Each class time they learn about a new sport or activity and participate. Tristan is learning the art of dance. LOL! He has been doing ballet style dance in gym. This cracks us up when he describes what he has to do. The good thing is that everyone else is doing the same thing so no one is making fun or laughing at others. I think it is cool! Funny, but cool!
Austin: His attitude is amazing and positive every day! I am so grateful for this! He enjoys school for the most part. He loves the cantine, or school lunch. It is actually a very healthy menu with 3 real chefs that cook everything from scratch. They take great pride in their food and it shows. The other day Austin came home and said he had some really good chicken kebob for lunch. When AJ got home he said, “Do you guys eat the rabbit today?” AJ has friends that speak english so he knew exactly what was served that day!:)
Austin is also taking another language, italien. He is really enjoying this, but finds it difficult because he has to translate words from french to english and then english to italien. He attempts almost all of his homework and is trying to speak a little more each day. Each day Austin feels he is understanding a tiny bit more. Him and Tristan have discovered a new game to play with all the other kids. In the large courtyard of their school there are cement ping pong like tables. When we first visited the school we all thought it would be cool to play ping pong during breaks and lunch. Well, they are not used for ping pong. The kids use them to play a game with a tennis ball. Groups of kids get on each side and they hit the ball with their hands and then run to the other side behind the next person. Who ever messes up is out and two players are always left running around the table trying to be the last one in the game. They love playing this with their friends!
AJ: AJ loves school here! He is the cool new American kid and everyone loves him. He is the english teachers assistant so that helps with his confidence! He has a few English/British friends who are so kind to him and have taken him under their wing. He gets invited to sit with people at lunch everyday and always seems to have a friend with him. AJ has a funny story to share almost everyday. One day he came home and said a french girl came up to him and asked him to say, “Je m’appelle Aaron.” My name is Aaron. After he said it, she said, “you really have a good accent”. AJ’s smile is infectious and more and more people are noticing it at school and church! Way to go AJ!
I have to mention the boys schedule. Each day is different! The school does not provide lockers so they carry their back packs with the days supplies. They leave the other supplies and books at home when they do not have a particular class for that day. School starts at 8am, except AJ doesn’t start until 9am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. School technically is over at 4:30pm but the boys have different schedules so they all come home at different times. It is interesting! It is almost like a college schedule. Both AJ and Austin have a few days when they do not have a class between 11 and 12, so they have a 2.5 hour break, because lunch is from noon to 1:30. But they have class starting at 1:30 and there is no bus at that hour so they do not come home.
This is Tristan’s schedule so you can get an idea of the difference between here and America. The boys all take the public bus to school and they are able to ride it home after 3:30. The exception is Wednesdays. They only have school until noon. It is a nice break in the middle of the week. Most days the boys leave at 7:15am to catch the bus just up the road from our house and they do not get home until 5:05pm. Almost 10 hours! It is long and exhausting. We do not have time for sports. Austin and AJ have a seminary lesson every night, which I teach. They have to go to the church once a week for a group seminary lesson. It is on Thursdays. Because we do not have any extra curricular activities, our family is always together!! Yeah! Aaron and I love this! Tomorrow we are going to Toulouse as a family. There is a Stake Youth Super Saturday for the boys so we will take them and the rest of us will explore Toulouse. It is a 3 hour drive so we have to make the most of our time! Crazy!
This is a little booklet that all the students carry with them. It has permission slips, schedules, etc. At the back bottom of this booklet I had to fill out the time for each day of the week that I give permission for my boys to leave campus. Someone is always at the gate to check each students booklet. This is because some kids leave campus to go eat at home or in the village. Plus, some teachers don’t show up for their scheduled class and the kids get parental permission to leave. This has happened to Austin twice so he has been able to leave school an hour early! The school has a good “checks and balances” when it comes to kids coming and going. It is very common for ALL age groups to leave school for lunch. Most businesses, except for food places, close between 12-1:30. We have to plan all of our errands around that time period.
Conclusion: some days are better than others. Some days are really hard and we all want to cry out of frustration but we are plugging through the hardship. Hopefully everyday will improve!