School Report

September 2, 2009

Lots of acclimating going on this week. We are each experiencing some culture shock via schools this week. Noah is gradually adjusting to the sensory overload of being in a large elementary school (on-base, American school). He was scared during his first recess experience: "all of a sudden there was a whistle blowing, kids started screaming and running and I didn't know what to do". He gets to ride a bus to school every day. Not your typical American yellow school. It's a large Italian tour bus. He is working on making friends, figuring out the hot lunch system, and coming home each day pretty wiped out. It's a very big change from his small and wonderful Jewish kindergarten/preschool experience, but he is adjusting.

Camille and I have been visiting Italian preschools this week in search of a good place for her. But it has proved to be a very different experience than I dreamed up in my head. Since Italy is the birthplace of the Montessori and the Reggio Emilia schools, I had imagined finding a peaceful, creative, nurturing oasis where Camille would be surrounded by Italian teachers and friends. I haven't been able to find that yet. We have pretty limited options in this rural/small town setting. The schools that I have visited so far felt chaotic, noisy, and crowded (1 teacher for 20 three/four year olds). One thing that is very appealing are the lunches...the schools go to the markets each morning to get fresh produce and serve the children a multi-course lunch. Grappling with re-adjusting my expectations and trying to understand cultural differences while also finding a good fit for Camille. We will continue to explore a couple of other options but perhaps will end up doing our own thing at home.
Dana said...

good luck in your search. they exist, but they are not easy to find and are not the norm (at least not in my experience). we LOVE maddy's asilo, but found it only on the recommendation of an italian teacher who was working with me as a private language tutor at the time. as a newcomer, i doubt that i would ever have found it. she is now kindergarten age, but we've opted to keep her in the asilo this final year. she is one of SEVEN children in her class. i really hope that you are able to find something for little Camille, but don't settle. it is as chaotic as it seems.

Karen (South of Rome) said...

Mahlon's class wasn't too big in Naples, but it shifted thoughout the day as kids came and went. He had 2 teachers and I was amazed at how well they kept the chaos controlled. Some schools don't encourage parents to participate, but Mahlon's school didn't seem to mind me. Then again, we were the first and only Americans. It could be different up in Motta? I never went there, so I don't know. If you need a good person to just watch Camille, Bina is the best!! Really you will love her and she is in Motta too. I think I emailed Adam with info on how to reach her. I keep thinking about you and how I need to just email you!!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Dana, thanks for the encouragement and your experiences. Karen, headed to see Bina tomorrow morning...can't wait to meet her in person after hearing so many positive things from you, Kari, and Colleen. I also keep meaning to send you a long e-mail. We'll catch up soon.

morninglight mama said...

Interesting-- I had the same impression about the preschool options, and I admit to being more than a little excited to get your perspective on an experience like that!! I hope everything falls into place for Camille! I'm sure it will. :)

Dawn said...

Hope Noah finds his way around soon. I can only imagine adding that on to all the other "culture shocks"...
That is an intresting point about preschool... birth of theory vs. practice! Intresting! Best in finding something!

likeschocolate said...

Good luck! If you do choose to send her to a larger size class see if you can volunteer. Maybe go to the park or local swimming place and see if you can get any recommendations. Sometimes when you hear from a parent that they love a place it makes you more comfortable. I have found my preschools all this way.

Cami said...

That is a lot of adjusting. I hope you figure everything out soon!

Francesca said...

In my experience, public preschools in Italy are just what you describe, and suffer from scant financial resources which affect both the number of teachers, and the school supplies and activities that they can offer. Still, it's amazing what a good teacher in a overcrowded class can do with little or no materials and lots of imagination and passion. (You can also have her go half day only, 9-12, so that you'll both gradually get comfortable, and she'll get some Italian and some time with peers!)

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