I have been to school yesterday for a parent’s open day (although I was the only one there in our small integration class). This is the school. It is one building. The children arrive at school at 8am in the morning and stand out the front on the steps until their teacher calls them in. Rain, snow or sunshine. The school is on a main road and isn’t fenced but this doesn’t seem to be a problem because the kids are taught to be responsible for themselves. Although there are always the exceptions 🙂
As you step into the building there is a large open room where children hang their bags and coats on hooks and change out of their outside shoes into inside ones.
The lessons start right away. I am amazed that in a class with children ranging in age from 7 to 12 years that they are all doing the same work initially. It is all in German and I am struggling to keep up but the kids are doing fine. They all have different levels of German but seem to follow along quite well. They stand at the blackboard for a morning test of last night’s homework so the teacher is able to see exactly what is going on. After this they head to their desks and work individually using their German workbooks. There is a cd player in the room and they go there from time to time to listen to the audio part of the course. As they finish a section the work is taken up to the teacher who checks it and offers corrections when needed. I am very impressed with how the teacher is handling the variety of age-groups and levels of German. The kids really seem to love the class.
There is a break at around 9.30am where the children eat a healthy snack in the classroom and then go outside to play. Rain, snow or sunshine. There is no undercover area to keep dry or warm. The kids rug up with beanies and scarves and coats and just get on with it. There is no playground equipment just some balls and (in winter) a fair bit of snow throwing. Urs tells me that at his school they did have a playground so it obviously varies from place to place.
The children go to the library once a fortnight. It is in the old town and is about a 1km walk from the school. Likewise on Fridays when they have sport, they walk to an indoor sporthall which is about 500m from the school. I am sure all of this, combined with walking to and from school and home for lunch daily, encourages an active lifestyle. I really am impressed by the fitness level of the older population here and I am convinced it is because it has been a part of their entire life.
Sorry about the poor quality photo! This is one of Claudia ‘s books. She is reading quite well in German after only nine weeks at school. It is not easy. Some of the words are real tongue-twisters but she has a good accent. She can’t understand all the words (and trust me when I say Google Translate is not always your best friend) but gets the general meaning. Urs reads with her and then they talk about what it means. She brings home a story to read every day which is even harder than this. And as in English, it is often sprinkled with nonsense words here and there. Except it often takes us a while to work out that that is what they are!
Next week we will have a parent teacher interview to find out exactly how things are going and what the plans will be for the upcoming months. There has been talk of spending some time with a regular class for some subjects. All in all, I am very happy with our school experience here but am missing the strong community feeling of our school in Australia. It may be that this exists here as well but that as an outsider I am not aware of it.