My boys are fairly typical, I think, in that they are "fine" with school, but given a choice, they'd stay home any day. No surprise there, right?
Imagine my shock, then, when I realized that Christopher now loves school. He is thrilled with the shorter hours, the freedom he is experiencing here, not to mention his hectic social schedule. I feel like he has grown up and matured so much over the past few weeks - and it's only been two and a half weeks of school. At this rate, he'll be unrecognizable by the time he gets back to Canada.
School starts at 8:30 am every day. Monday through Thursday, Christopher finishes school at 2 pm. But get this - on Fridays he is done at noon. It's so civilized! Top that off with a rule saying no homework allowed on weekends - and I don't know who is happier, Christopher or his school-weary parents! No more PowerPoint presentations to finish on Saturday, no more tests to cram for on Sunday.
Yes - "life with school" has suddenly got a whole lot brighter. And it bears mentioning that Benjamin is also done at noon on Fridays, which gives us a precious few extra hours to fly/drive away for the weekend....Stockholm...Copenhagen...London...Paris...here we come!
The more important thing is that even on longer days Christopher is perfectly content to go to school, be at school and hang out with his buddies. He plays soccer at recess and during the longer lunch break. He occasionally checks up on his brother, and according to B boy, he is always accompanied by a friend or two. But most of all, he is busy planning his schedule for the afternoon.
As soon as school is out, Christopher whips out his most prized possession - his new cell phone - and checks in with us. We just wait for the inevitable question to come (in Norwegian): "Can I go home with so-and-so?"...or... "I'm bringing so-and-so home. Can we make waffles?"
And the best part of it is - he has the time to go out in the afternoon. Partly because he has much less homework than what we are used to, and partly because he finishes earlier at school here.
It is wonderful to see how the boys organize themselves. You might think it would be all electronics and indoor activities, but, surprisingly, they spend a lot of time outside. They go to each other's house to jump on trampolines (no respectable family is without a trampoline in Norway) or they kick a ball around on the soccer field just below the school.
I was not sure what to expect from the other kids in the class Christopher joined this fall. I realized that his "foreign-ness" could be seen as cool, but it could just as easily have worked against him. You have to know that these kids have been in the same class, with the same teacher for 4 years already. They do not reshuffle classes from year to year here, so the children obviously get to know each other very well. The school is also much more proactive at arranging after school activities on a class by class basis. There are class sleepovers from grade 1, disco nights, games nights, sports nights, etc. That's a lot of bonding!
On top of that, foreign students are extremely unusual at this school. We are simply too far away from Oslo to get any of the expats or new immigrants. In fact, I think I mentioned in a previous posting that we are rather famous at our little school as "the Canadians". The teachers all knew we were coming before we'd even had a chance to go to the school to introduce ourselves!
Knock on wood - but so far the kids in Christopher's class have welcomed him with open arms. No one seems to pick on him for his grammar being off at times, or the occasional misunderstandings that are inevitable with a new language. It is heartwarming to hear them talking together. They do not even correct him when he uses the wrong word or messes up the word order. They simply reply as they would to any other kid. Amazing.