School Starts Tomorrow

T starts school tomorrow. We have, with the huge help of our local Australian friends, managed to get him enrolled in the Monforte Scuola Materna – the equivalent of our Kindy. From all reports the Italians set the standard when it comes to educating their pre-school children so T should be in good hands. The difficulty will be the fact that since it is the local school (rather than an ex-pat school) the teaching is in Italian.

The junior school here has just been rebuilt and it’s official opening was yesterday. Jo and T went along for the opening ceremony and S and I joined them later to have a look through the school. It is just perfect.

The brilliant thing was that T’s name was on the class list on his door – he has his own hook for his bag, another for his hand towel in the bathroom and his own tray for his things in the classroom. Seeing his name up made us feel like he was welcome and that he was already expected to be part of the class. It was particularly impressive as it was only on Tuesday that Jo had the conversation at the local head office to see if there was a place for him in Monforte.

It is a bit challenging for us; the thought of sending our little boy into the world of school, and asking him to do it without having any of the language. T, on the other hand, is excited about the fact that he is going to a “kindy-school” and, reading between the lines, getting some time away from Dad and Mum… The joy of being blissfully unaware of the risks and potential heartaches associated with trying to fit in.

We have watched him make contact with other Italian children in the playgrounds and in the piazza over the past two weeks. It is heartbreaking to see him enthusiastically initiate contact (in English or with the stock Italian phrase “mi chiamo…”) and then often be rebuffed. However, it has also been inspiring to watch him persist in trying to establish a connection. In the majority of cases the Italian child has relented and ended up playing with him. T is totally oblivious to the subtext that surrounds these interactions and is completely happy at the end of the play that he has made a new ‘friend’.

That resilience should stand him in good stead. On the other hand, we will see how his parents cope in the morning.

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