Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surprise Surprise...

On Friday we took a walk over to visit Parker and Addison's new school and to meet Madame Gros the Directrice of the Ecole Primaire. A very lovely woman perhaps in her late 30's or early 40's (or maybe late 40's and she looked very good). We are not sure of  her professional history but we do know she is French and from Toulouse and this is her 2nd year as the Directrice at the school. Our conversation with her was entirely in French. A few variations of the same conversation a few times occured when we could not get the full gist of the translation.  But it eventually came.  I wish I could say Parker and Addison were stepping up to being our little translators but they would have nothing to do with assisting. Yet after we left the school - it was clear when we asked a few questions to them - they knew all that she had communicated.

So what was the surprise - Madame Gros was explaining the daily schedule of the school for the primary children which in my understanding seemed to be some rather short days and I asked  - is this for the first week and she said no for the entire year.  At that point  Manning and I were still unclear about the schedule so she went and printed it out and walked us through it.  M/W/F - school starts at 7:50 and goes through 12.  At which point you (or a nanny - la gardienne) - pick them up.  End of Day!  T/Th - school starts at 7:50 and goes through 3:15 with a catch.  There is a break for lunch from 12 - 1:30 - 50% of the kids go home for lunch. You are not allowed to bring your own lunch so the other 50% stay for a cafeteria style meal prepaid.

Guess which group Parker and Addison will be in?

When Madame Gros realized what we just realized - she smiled and said - there will be more time for homework ;+} - The school does offer some additional after school sports activities for a fee but it does not start until October so we'll have to see how all that plays into the schedule.  The reason for the schedule as it is - has to do with the heat and let me tell you the heat + humidity by the afternoon is a killer. And this school does not have air conditioning.  So we can understand now why they structure week as it is. Pictures of the school to come soon.

Needless to say - we now recognize this puts a tiny crimp into our day and how we will be able to structure our language classes and also the volunteer work at the NGO's in months to come.  In the next few weeks we were going to work on finding a cook/maid - now we may have to add "La Gardienne" to the list of  responsibilities who can pick them up, feed them lunch and help with homework. Of course, it's no different than having a Nanny it's just that we are now learning that the structure of the day is so different. Having  "La Gardienne"  will of course allow us to make more time for the NGO's. And the volunteer work IS one of the purposes for being here. 

It's true -  and apparent now that we made an assumption that this school would run on the same  8ish - 3ish - French/American schedule we were accustomed to at home. Learning something new everyday!

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