Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Grade Was Magic!

This was a very apprehensive pupil about to go to First Grade on September 1st 2014.

And this was the final Day of First Grade on June 30th 2015.

First Grade is magic. I remember the opening ceremony (Israelis have ceremonies for everything) and thinking that the Second Graders looked so much older than the new First Graders who still looked like they were in Kindergarten. One of the mothers with older children told me that this year is the biggest jump in development from small children to schoolchildren.

She was so right. Suddenly they have to deal with a timetable, lessons which run according to schedule and not according to what they feel like doing, homework, sitting and completeing work, and interacting with children in the school, up to 12 year olds in Sixth Grade.

And that's just the mechanics. In First Grade they learn to read and write (in Hebrew). They learn real Maths. They learn Science and Geography, Art, Music, Personal Development and Life Skills. They learn English As A Second Language (we knew all the English already but it brought our report card average up significantly) and Jewish Studies about the Jewish calendar and stories from the Torah (Old Testament). There was Physical Education and Dance, there were trips and hikes. There was a lot about Israel, especially the songs and all about Jerusalem. In the afternoon programme there was cookery.

At home we had play dates, we practiced reading English, DD rode her bike, I read chapter books to her (in English), we went to bed far too late, we argued and negotiated, we ate too much junk, but we always did the homework on time. DD spent far too much time on the tablet (but not more than I spent on my laptop and we don't have tv),  Next year we will try harder.

Last August I bought 10 t-shirts with the school badge transfer in the largest size that didn't look ridiculous thinking they might last two or three years. LOL, as soon as the Summer School is over most of them are going in the bin and we'll start again. (We'll get the cheapest ones costing under 3GBP.) I didn't bargain for ketchup at lunch, chocolate cake when a child has a birthday, paint and clay in art, and an irresistable desire to chew the collar when you're a bit overwhelmed in school.

We love DD's teacher, Meirav and we are delighted that she'll be going up to Second Grade with the same class.

I learned loads too. My Hebrew improved as I had to read the daily emails from Meirav with the homework and other notices. (Interesting that DD has learned she doesn't have to pay attention to instructions at school for homework and future events, what to bring, etc... as she knows there'll be an email.)

I learned that Pesach (Passover) is celebrated for only 7 days and not 8 - who knew? We only found out when DD got it wrong on her worksheet. (FYI Pesach is celebrated for 8 days outside Israel and only for 7 days in Israel. Of course I knew this but we are always in London for Pesach so it's not what we do and I forgot.)

We got a proper report card with grades and comments. She excelled in Learning Skills, Social Skills, English, Music, Art, and Dance. We're ok in Physical Education (for now :~) ). I know we have to practise Language Skills as they are in our second language. I was surprised that we didn't do better in Maths but I suspect some of that is due to not understanding the instructions. Nevertheless we will practise maths over the summer too. We got a row of 'sufficient' for Science. They say 'sufficient' but they mean 'not really sufficient' or 'just sufficient to pass but no more.' Again this is a lot to do with a lack of self confidence in answering the questions in case she gets it wrong.

Finally, DD has not taken part in any of the ceremonies or performances so far excpet to be in the chorus. Last week she told me, "Mummy I know all the parts for the groups in the performance so I could have performed." When I asked her why she didn't volunteer to be in it she said, "I didn't realize it would be so easy to learn." And yesterday she said, "sometimes in Science I knew all the answers but I didn't say in case I was wrong. And when they said the answers I was RIGHT!" I think we may be about to win another battle. But we have the whole of Second Grade to conquer that one.

Goodbye First Grade. It's been a blast and you were magic!