It’s been a while since my blog covered this topic, hasn’t it?! It’s June 30th, that’s the last day of elementary school here in Israel. Middle and High School ended almost two weeks ago.
I’m always excited for the last day of school, I enjoy the summer generally – less pressure on the kids, no homework, no tests, more time to play and have fun. This year is different. This year, I have an added element to my usual summertime excitement. This year, we are celebrating. My children got through an entire Israeli school year, and we all survived!
It’s less than a year since we arrived here in Israel. School started a mere two weeks after we landed, our lift had yet to arrive, and the kids didn’t have real beds to sleep in for the first few weeks of school. They didn’t have a proper table to do their homework on, and they didn’t really know anyone yet.
We told the kids when we made aliya, that they could each take a “personal” day each month, where they could stay home from school. We recognized that it would be a difficult and challenging year for them, learning the language, sitting in class without understanding much of what was being taught, and starting from scratch in the social arena. In the beginning, they each took a day off here and there. There were a few rough weeks where one child or another begged to be allowed to stay home all week. We did not give in. They each worked hard, they all made friends fast, and pretty much every day, all three of them came home smiling from school. Since Chanukah, not one child has asked to take a personal day from school. It’s a good job I never suggested we roll those days over!
For kids who have always been at the top of their class with grades, without ever having to put a lot of effort in, it is very difficult to suddenly sit in class and really not get any of what is going on. To become a kid who struggles to get any kind of grade in a test, rather than easily getting an A, simply because the language isn’t your own, is a really big adjustment. The schools worked with them to an extent, giving extra time where needed, and grading them according to their progress, rather than according to how well they did. But it’s no easy feat to accept that a 65% is a really good grade in a history test, when you’d have gotten 95% had it been in English.
I can’t attest to how much they have learned from an educational perspective, (not much teaching appears to go on from Pesach until the end of school, just an abundance of field trips, tekesim (ceremonies) and parties) but they have learned so much.
They have each emerged from this school year as young Israelis. They have the little shoulder shrug and that shaking of the thumb/forefinger down pat. While they sometimes claim they still don’t speak or understand much Hebrew, I have proof that this is not so. I read their Whatsapp messages, in Hebrew, with atrocious spelling (just like most Israelis!).
Three weeks of camp begins tomorrow – 3 kids, 3 camps, 3 different directions – and then we have the month of August to recuperate, relax and get ready for another year of school. I will have a 3rd grader, a 6th grader (last year of elementary school here) and an 8th grader. Wow, how time flies!