The blog has certainly not reflected how busy we have been around here! Shortly after moving in, I had to make a few difficult decisions about schools for the boys this year. The school year here starts in March. Jack Jr. turns four next week, and that is the starting age of formal schooling here in Peru.
We had very few options, as many schools fill up years in advance, and waiting lists are atrocious. The American school here will always try to make space for an embassy kid, but it is very far away (and very expensive!) I really wanted him to have something a little closer to home, and preferable a smaller, more montessori-like school. My other consideration was spanish. At the American school, he would have spanish as a second language a few times a week at best, and our hope was that the boys would become fluent in our three years here.
The other option was a “nido”, which is a playgroup/daycare type facility for younger children. Many of these have phased out the program for four year olds since that age group now goes to schools. We found one nido that had a program close to our home. It certainly wasn’t ideal, and I didn’t really like the space much, but some other embassy families used and liked it. I resigned myself, and bought books (yes, books, for a four and two year old! For approximately $150!)
At the last minute, we were offered a space for him at another school nearby. Classes are in english and spanish, and we can walk there. It is much more structured than I would have liked. Children get homework, and take exams. (Again, at four!) The school supplies lists around here will blow your mind – four tightly spaced typewritten pages with every type of paper – copy paper, toilet paper, tissue paper, to a box of dinosaurs, books, and the inevitable lists of markers, crayons, and pencils. Shopping for said list without a car, and without spanish has been the bane of my existence since he got in just a few weeks ago. So far he likes it, and is all smiles at pick up everyday.
Unfortunately, my two year old little guy is now stuck without his brother at nido, and the way he calls for him the whole time is just heartbreaking. None of his teachers speak any english, so it will be a challenge in the beginning, but emersion is the best way to learn. (I keep telling myself that when I see their confused little faces.)
While my mommy heart is still not at peace with the decisions we made, we will live with it for the next three years, reevaluating as necessary. Oh, schooldays.
Do you consider schools when you choose your expat assignments?