Sunday, October 09, 2005
Rapha started preschool...his first day. Oh what proud parents we were. And so thrilled for him to FINALLY be cavorting with peers again. A full month here without it and for the poor, sweetie it was sorely missing.
He was so excited carrying that Spiderman lunchbox, watching the other children as they arrived, attempting to communicate with the few, Thai kids that speak English.
Most of my focus was building towards this day. Find an apartment in order to have an address in order to be zoned in order to sign him up in order to not schlep him around with boring adults (us), in order to give him normalcy and routine, in order for him to be happy and so it goes....
The main differences between San Francisco preschool and the Tel Aviv equivalent:
- there are 32 (!) kids in class here, 3 teachers, no parents. That's a damned high ratio of child to teacher. In SF, it was one paid teacher and four working parents per day - That's 5:1. But part of the commitment of being in a co-op was parents' obligation of working one day per week, participating in committee work, fundraising, bi-annual clean ups, monthly meetings, monthly snack duty, monthly art project duty ...Oh My God!!! It felt like a black hole.
- class runs 6 hours each day as opposed to 3 in San Fran. The cost? Around $150 in Tel Aviv versus $230-250 in SF and that higher bill doesn't account for donations, time commitment, snacks, obligatory purchases, etc.
- The entire food approach is different. Here, the child eats at home, arrives to school at 7:30-8 with a sandwich for 10 a.m. snack, a bottle of water so the teacher can monitor liquid intake and 2 pieces of fresh fruit to add to the collective fruit basket divided among all at 11:30. At 13:30 kids go home for lunch. That's one meal and 1.5 snacks spread over 6 hours.
At Haight Ashbury Co-Op, Raph's San Fran school, the kids arrived at 09:30, ostensibly with full stomachs from breakfast. An hour later, snack - not to be taken lightly in these parts, as "snack" can mean macaroni & cheese, pizza, chicken sticks, oatmeal,....(obesity ain't rampant for nothing, kiddies!)
An hour and a half after snack was lunchtime. Full meals of sandwich, fruit, yogurt, chips, drink and so on from home.. Assuming the child wakes up at 07:00, that's 3 meal-sized portions within 5 hours. hmmmm...to ponder.
- Structure. School here has a defined, daily structure with clear goals: Developing coordination and social skills, teaching learning and motivation skills and so on. To reinforce this, each day is divided into time slots with focus on these skills for a set amount of time.
At HACNS it was open play all day every day aside from music each two weeks and a tumbling class every other week plus Friday show-and-tell. I prefer structure but okay..Free play does lead to creativity.
- And the clincher: On Fridays there is kabbalat shabbat and before the holidays, kids make decorations for the Jewish New Year and succot - not Easter or Christmas. This satisfies me immensely.
Raph hasn't a clue yet but these differences - subsidized education, book reading, an emphasis on learning, affordable education, food not being the focal point of structured time and celebrated holidays being Jewish rather than Christian are some of the strongest motivators which pushed me to return.
It is extremely rewarding to watch these pieces fall into place.