tiistai 18. elokuuta 2015

The month of firsts: Veera goes to school

For a reason quite inconceivable to me the Finnish school year begins in the middle of August. The (summers of the) past two years were very hot on the average Finnish temperature scale, with T-shirt weather in April as well as in October and all the way in between, so it shouldn't have come as the huge shock it did to most when this year it only really got warm in August. As it often does, after a chilly June and a gradually warming and likely rainy July. August is the Finnish summer month, despite the fact that everyone has their holidays in July (unlike other European countries, holidaying in August, which cuts off Finnish businesses internationally for two months).

But hey, it's also the month when kids - and the grown-ups who teach them - go back to school. After 22 months of maternity / family leave (the title changed after four months) it was a convenient time for me, a teacher, to return to work. I guess I could have picked any time for my return, as long as it took place on Kerttu's 3rd birthday at the latest, but this is the most straight-forward moment to get back in the teaching saddle.

My going back to work meant of course having to figure out what to do with the daughters.

There were no problems concerning Veera, who will be seven next week, thus beginning first grade, except for the slight difference in the starting dates for my work in the secondary education and her comprehensive school. She hung out with friends and Granny for the Thursday, Friday and Monday I was already at work, and then last Tuesday was walked to school by Granny, loved every minute of finally being at school - she's been looking forward to it for the last five years I guess - and in the evening told me she'd go alone from now on.

The school is about one kilometre away, and it's the same building where she went to last year for her pre-school (which, I learn, is officially called pre-primary education; if you're interested in the whole of the Finnish education system, click here), so she knows the places and many of the older kids too. Before the pre-school year she attended the neighbourhood day care centre with the children of the same age living right here, and what do you know, out of the three first-grade groups hers consists of her old day care group and last year's pre-school group. So she took on the whole school thing really quickly.

I do have a couple of Mommy-concerns, tiny, but they're there. She can already read and write and count and tell the time and she's clever and curious and creative, which is all wonderful and I'm very proud of her. But I also know her temper: she gets frustrated easily if she feels she's not understood correctly. She's tall for her age and the years spent in day care have given her the idea of how to survive in a group, so for someone not her mother she may seem very in control of any situation. Children do perceive things in their own way, but it did break my heart a bit when she once told me that she wont tell her worries to the grown-ups anymore because they never come to her, like they go to others to comfort or help them, she just gets told from afar that "everything's going to be alright, don't worry". She may look precocious but she still is a child. I'm sure her teachers and nurses know that just as well as I do, and I also know from my own professional experience that there are times when you just don't have enough time for everyone. Still, my biggest wish is that her teacher turns out to be the wise and warm woman I sense her to be, who will look at each child as a precious individual and see them for who they really are.

Everything is going smoothly now, she has 19 lessons a week, so the days are short, but she has Granny and certain friends to go to if she gets bored before or after school, and from September onwards she'll spend her afternoons at school where there's a sort of an afternoon club for first-graders. I feel Veera is in a good place, she's well cut-out for school, and I think she feels the same way.

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