The Ministry of Education made some changes to the school system over the summer (start and end dates, timings, etc.), so Miriam's school day is now 50 minutes longer than it was last year. At first I wasn't too happy about that, but it turns out that Miriam's school, at least, is filling in a lot of the extra time with "activities." Last week Miriam brought home a list of 30+ activities that she could sign up to participate in for the last hour of school a few times a week. My impression is that each teacher at the school volunteered a skill or hobby for the activity hour and that the kids will switch classrooms according to what they signed up for. Miriam chose dance, French music/singing, and performing arts. The longer school days are still not my favorite thing, but in a way it is a blessing for Miriam to be doing some "extracurricular" (even if they are technically still at school) activities without having to pack a bag or get in the car or adhere to odd schedules that don't work for our family. She goes to school, then she comes home and she's DONE. Hallelujah.
Magdalena will go to Miriam's school next year for Grade 1. For now, she's at the same school as last year, in KG2, with the same teacher (from Iraq) and same classroom that Miriam had. So the first day of school yesterday had no surprises. I think she's enjoying being one of the big kids at school (KG2 is the highest grade there). I'm enjoying the fact that for one more year, she can ride her bike or scooter to school and be in a very small class with a calm, low-key environment and a fantastic daily Arabic program. It's the perfect fit for us.
Last year I remember being so nervous about Miriam's new school and sending Magdalena to KG1. This year it was a much smoother beginning to the school year, and it was wonderful.