The beginning of another School Year in France!!
Yesterday marked the beginning of this school year for my girls. For each of them, new adventures, new things to learn and a time to see their friends again after the summer holidays! In France, I have to say it's more common that families go away together or go visit relatives for the majority of the summer - so other than summer camp, the girls don't see too many of their friends over the summer months.
Only one of them, my middle daughter (11 years old) has changed schools. She's very excited this year to make the transition from elementary school or Primaire as they call it here to college or middle school, as she enters 6eme (6th grade equivalent). She will join her older sister at the same private catholic middle school here locally. The middle school's here are 4 years, so incorporate 3eme (or 9th grade). This allows my oldest daughter and middle daughter to be in the same school. They haven't been together since we first moved here 4 years ago.
La Rentree is an exciting time for French students - unlike in the States where one knows their classes and teachers ahead of time - it's a big surprise here on the first day of school. Class schedules, teachers and everything else is revealed then.
For my youngest, she's in CE2 (3rd grade). For the first day of school in France, parents escort their child to school and for one of few times during the year - parents & children are welcomed into the courtyard. On the side wall are the class lists and sections. Each year depending on numbers in each class, there are solid one-level sections and also combined 2 level sections. This year, my daughter is in a one-level section having 2 teachers - the director of the school, along with another teacher 2 days a week, while the director is doing administrative days. She was happy to see her friends again and pleased with her teachers. The Director opens the day with a welcome to all - introduces the teachers and then reads the class lists. The teachers then take their respective classes to their classrooms....off she goes...another school year has begun - and the parents file back out of the school courtyard. All of this happens in about 10 minutes. It's nice to see the other parents again - although many, like myself were in a hurry to move on to work.
For our college, they choose to have each class start separately with partial days over the first two for each level - yesterday was 6eme & 4 eme (6th & 8th) - today was 5 eme & 3eme (7th& 9th). This meant that my older 2 girls started a day apart. There is then a day of school orientation for the 6eme level which will be held tomorrow and officially all classes at all levels start on Friday morning.
It's a bit complicated and not at all like the American schools where when you start - you begin fully and you have been given your classes and teachers ahead of time. I think this makes it a bit hard to prepare and organize ahead of time but because this first week is slow - it does allow students to ease into the start of the year.
We did get the classroom supply list ahead of time, and that does ease some anxiety in the preparation process. However, I have to add that in France the school supply list is very specific and often very long. They have many different kinds of notebooks, sizes and types of lines...it very much depends on the teacher as to what each of them want and what kinds of pens, agendas, white board and glue... We are slowly mastering this process as we start each new year. I have finally learned many of the specific terms for school supplies - Like a "Lutin" is a notebook of clear plastic folders designed to place sheets of paper in. Then there is the difference between the Cahier de Text & l'Agenda. The former being a simplified daily assignment book for younger students.
Because of this tapered start, it gave each of my older daughters an extra day off during this first week. For my middle daughter, she started yesterday, but had today off. This allowed me to spend the morning with her - as we ran final errands - like getting her public bus/tram pass and picking up any last minute items. Always fun to have some special one on one time with each one of them.
We managed to get our school supply shopping done in early August and had time to find the "perfect" backpack for back to school. My older girls each chose Eastpaks -and my youngest an adorable "Little Marcel" backpack. In this sense - finding the right back pack and also a few new outfits for "Back to School"/La Rentree - France is very similar to the States.
As we all had a busy summer traveling - I thought it would be lovely to take the final weekend in August and just rest and relax. Rejuvenate- before the start of the school year. Instead of just staying home, we headed out to our new favorite Chambre d'Hotes located near Agen (about an hour from here) - La Larroquinere (I wrote a post on this guest house -here . The have a lovely pool, beautiful open space for meandering around - plenty of animals to enjoy - dogs, cats, chickens, sheep etc...and various amusements for families (ping-pong, trampoline etc..)
It turned out to be a beautiful HOT and sunny weekend and we so appreciated being able to enjoy a cool pool. It was nice to disconnect from the Internet, relax out in the open sun and just enjoy some family time!!
I would certainly consider that plan again, as I know it did all of us some good. It was a great time to relax and reconnect. I felt very refreshed upon our return to the city on Sunday afternoon. The girls still had one more day to begin organizing. For me - Monday the 31st of August marked my return to work. Yes, I do work part-time, but often the days I work are long or blocked together - but so fun!! It was nice to begin with some great energy after the summer vacation and the final weekend away!
These final 2 collages are from Google's new application of "Revisit this day". It's fun to see their old back to school outfits, smiles and hairstyles. How much they have changed, how much they have grown! Gone are the years of preschool or maternelle - this family now has 2 middle schoolers and one daughter right in the middle of Elementary school. Where does the time go? How fast they grow...love their styles and their smiles!!
Bonne Courage everyone who has their Rentree or Back to School happening now!! It's a time of excitement and a time of nostalgia. The years press on...each one starting with the renewed excitement of an new year to come!! I would love to hear about your Back to School routine if you have one.
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