After 8 years of schooling so far for my kids there are two thing I can tell you for certain about schools; the first is that no one can agree on them. The second is that honestly non are really up to par.
I am beginning to worry about asking, or being asked, what school do your kids go to. Mainly because people get so emotional and offended defending their schools or criticising other schools. But also because it confuses me.
Anyway, long story longer I moved my kids to a new school. I moved my kids from a school of 300 students to one of 3000. So yeah… culture shock. For me and my children.
When I would walk into the kids old school I would be greeted with smiles, the doorman would know the children’s names. I would often pop into the office and say hello to everyone. You could see the whole school the second you walk into the building.
In the new school it takes ages to get to the gate of the school then its a long walk to where my daughters building is (which alone is bigger than their old school). I drop my son off at the KG building on the way to the primary years building, that’s also a big hall with 4 other spaces leading off of it with 4 classes each in those space.
The first day I got there I remembered when we moved back from London and I enrolled my son in a big school here and went looking for someone to tell me about the PTA. I was greeted with looks of utter confusion as to why I would want to volunteer and what exactly I thought I could do there. In the end they shut me up by asking for my number and telling me they would call me.
Good points about the school:
1-The children all speak Arabic in recess. As opposed to the old school where the main language was english despite the fact that it has a majority of Saudi students.
2-We get all the kids homework for the week on Thursday and the majority of it is to be handed in on Wednesday. And like a true tyrannical mother I make them do it ALL over the weekend. That way we get it out of the way.
3- It’s close…
4-It’s huge and now my kids are exposed to many more people from many more backgrounds than they would have been in the small school. Fantastic because now they will no doubt understand their country and their culture better than they ever would have in the small sheltered school.
5- There is three times as much Arabic as the other school.
6-They teach history and geography of Saudi (no the other school didn’t)
Things that worry me about the school:
1-It’s huge and now my kids are exposed to many more people from many more backgrounds than they would have been in the small school. Worrisome because already all three kids have been exposed to bad behaviour and language that they were more unlikely to have heard in the small school.
2- My kids are way ahead of all their classes. They were always the top of their class but they were part of a group who were the top of their class. So this tells me that the standard of education is not the same. I think mainly because as opposed to having two teachers in a class of 18 they have one teacher in a class of an about 23.
3- The KG class is killing me it is so so so childish for my son… I have for the first time regretted not putting him a head a year in school. I am truly hoping it picks up.
4- They don’t teach a third language.
5- Their after school classes are only given on a Monday so they are limited to only choosing one activity.
6- Pick up is a total nightmare! We have to get J who finishes 15 mins before S then get in the car and drive to the gate S comes out of and wait for him to be ready or park and go get him. We have found a system where the car gets parked somewhere between the two buildings and they walk.
So, I have made a conscious decision to choose language and culture over the overall level of education and the… not sure how to phrase it other than say: respect for the children as individuals (which they do not get in this school). The curriculum is basically the same as their old school but the challenge is much less.
The biggest change, and possibly the most important one to our family is the fact that they finish school earlier and they don’t have lunch at school. So for the first time ever we now all sit down together for a late lunch 5 days a week! I mean all of us! M and me and the 4 kids! Daily! this never happened before.
The only time we used to do that consistently is on family day saturday.
The flip side of this is that the reason they come home earlier is because school start at 6.45 am… yep… 6.45.
So… How does Mama B deal with this knowing that her head explodes if her kids don’t consistently get enough sleep for their age (why is sleep important? Click here and here and here and here to know). Earlier bed times.
We have a late lunch, so there is no way we will be ready for dinner at 5.30 or 6 so instead we have a snack but a substantial snack. Fruits and yoghurt, eggs, a healthy sandwich, veggies and dip, milk etc. We have been dappling in Paleo desserts (yummy without the guilt!).
Then at 6 I take the younger two up to shower, have a couple of stories and then hopefully fall asleep around 7 giving them 11 hours of sleep. The older ones come up not much after that and shower then read till about 7.30 at which point it’s lights out. I pray that they sleep at 8 and get 10 hours. Has it been working… just about. But we have to be diligent about the bedtime routine.
Change is always difficult I know. So that is why, bar some really extreme situation, I will not change the children’s school. My kids need to settle. I need to settle. Otherwise homeschooling!!!
I’m only kidding! Calm Down.
Sounds like you have your hands full! I hope the year goes well for your kids- and you!
Thank you so much! So do I. Just had a quick peek at your site and the fact that you quoted Malcolm Gladwell and that your site is about teaching and children learning I am hooked! Thank you for visiting my site!
Thanks for joining me, too! Blogging is an adventure all on its own!
Finally someone who is blogging about schools here. I thought I was alone with my constant worries. I really do not know much about schools here and what they offer, but I know that I have many things I do not like at T’s current school such as too many kids in a class (25), they sit on the floor of this of this big dirty area to eat lunch, 3 languages (French), they have to bring tons of books back and forth daily. He has a lot of homework daily which is okay since I just have him, but on top of that he has tons of Quran to memorize and Arabic, which I cannot help him with. I could go on!
After grade 2 (next year) the boys all go to men to be taught and I do not like that at all. I want to switch him after this year because my Saudi friend said she heard bad things after grade 2 and she’s switching her son as well. I make T sleep at 7:30 and it’s been working. They have started class at 6:45 since last year so he wakes up with enough sleep and is tired by the time bedtime comes around. He hates to do homework, shower and eat when he gets home bc he just wants tor rest and play, but really it’s not enough time for everything by the time bed time rolls around.
I did not start I in school until he was 5 because I was already teaching him at home and when he went he was bored telling me they were learning things like shapes and numbers, but the important thing for me was the Arabic and friends which helped him SO MUCH. I would like him to be in Arabic now, but the truth is that I just cannot help him study, etc since I do not know the language and I am the only one here to help him. Sure my dh is around, but he does good to help him with Arabic and Islam when he is here. InshAllah your cuties are enjoying themselves this year and learning a lot.
Its amazing you taught him so much at home before hand. I have major issues with the way schools are in general and I don’t feel they help children learn lol. They seem so counter intuitive to the way children naturally learn…
God help us all get through these years with our children’s emotions and intelligence in tact!
It is hard to find a school that is academically good and fits in with the way you want to raise your children, I think. I transfered my daughter this year to a school that has an excellent reputetion but offers almost no Religion and Arabic. After 4 weeks I really regretted my decesion and transferred her back to her old school. Maybe the academical part is not as good, but at least the school is not a contradicton with the way I want to raise my children
Yes! Exactly! Everything you just said lol.
I hope all our children do well and are happy!
My “second” comment on the previous post supposed to be here :-[ fashla lol.
anyway.. Good luck with all mama B hopefully it’ll all go smooth and well.. xo