Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy little campers

This week, Missy’s class enjoyed a Camp Day. It was kind of 'The Camp You Have Without Having A Camp'.
Basically, they did all the fun stuff involved with camping, without the trauma of parents and teachers having to stay overnight.
The teachers put out a call for parent volunteers, and I was happy (kind of) to lend a hand.
Though I love my kids, spending time with other peoples’ offspring has never been a strong point. But gradually, the rugrats and their desire to have me join in on events like these, have converted me. I love that working part-time gives me the opportunity of getting involved, and learning more about their teachers and friends. Who would’ve thought it? Maybe I’m finally turning into a real Grown-Up Mumma?
Tents were erected, marshmallows were toasted, and a variety of feel-good outdoor activities enjoyed – parachute games, swimming, potato and spoon races, and a treasure hunt. With a sausage sizzle for lunch, and a movie and ice-block in the afternoon, the Grade Two kids were certainly happy little campers.
That evening? Missy slept well, and I did too, after a few medicinal wines. (Well, I had the wine. Miss H. had milk!)
I love our Auckland school. There are a huge variety of schools in NZ, and we were lucky to find one which is warm and caring, a lot like the school they went to back home.
In NZ, every child apparently has the right to attend a school close to where they live. The idea being that they can walk there if they want to, make loads of friends in the same neighbourhood, and feel more a part of the community.
And I love the idea too, except that it can be stressy for parents, because you can only send kids to certain schools if you live in the right 'zone'.
For example, when we moved here, we had to find a place to live which we could afford, which was convenient to work, but also was near a good school. And now, because the property we're renting is going on the market soon, we are faced with having to move again before the end of the year. And there is no way I want to uproot my kids again and take them to yet another school!
Clearly, we will be moving heaven and earth not to move … at least not far away.
Here are some of the things I love about our Kiwi school:
- Our kids get to drink filtered cold water throughout the day. (Unlike the crappy first state school my eldest attended in Brisbane, where the cranky teacher wouldn’t let them drink in 36 degrees celcius temperatures! That was one of the reasons we turned to a small private school in Brisbane…)
- The kids get to call teachers by their first names – even the principal. They get lots of hugs too! - There is no tuck shop. Kids can order healthy Subway sandwiches if parents haven’t had time to prepare a packed lunch, and it’s delivered later in the day. There are no cookies, pies, sausage rolls, home-made cakes, supposedly-healthy ice-blocks or the like. My kids get Subway at school once a week if they are lucky. And the system totally ends the pestering-for-money for treats at school drop-off in the mornings.
- Exercise is a priority. The kids exercise at school every day – swimming three times a week for H, twice a week for C. First thing each morning, there is Jump Jam (like aerobics to the latest hits) for H; C. does a more grown-up workout including stretches and running.
- Kids are not just allowed, but encouraged to climb trees! The playgrounds are challenging, fun, and for this Mum, slightly scary. (Would you believe they still have monkey bars? Really high monkey bars?) And once they hit grade 5, the kids learn to ride unicycles!
- All the teachers have laptops, and parents can communicate with them by email during the day. I just got an email from C’s teacher, telling him to get well soon and hopefully she’ll see him on Monday. (He came down with flu this morning).
- There’s a healthy attitude to food. Though foods like chocolates and lollies are banned, there are still fundraising days about once a term where they can buy a treat, like ice-blocks, home-baked goodies, or in the case of Missy’s camp day, toasted marshmallows and a sausage sizzle.
- The Maori culture is incorporated into daily school life and is part of the curriculum, in a way that indigenous culture is not celebrated back home. I love listening to our kids singing and speaking Maori, and that they can help me when I'm stuck with difficult pronunciations.
Sometimes I feel it's tough on the kids, having to learn two lots of vowel sounds and words, but then I guess it's no different to learning any other language at school either!
- Our school has kids (and teachers) from more than 20 different countries on the roll, so C. and H. are learning a healthy respect for and appreciation of other cultures, before official lessons even begin.
- They don't wear a uniform. Now usually, I'm all for uniforms. But in our case, it saved us a load of money when we arrived here, (having just shelled out big time back in Brisbane), and it also means the kids get plenty of wear out of their clothes.
The kids wanted me to share a few photos with you ...





Ready for school...





The leafy grounds





One of the many murals around school created by the children themselves












C's classroom has the latest in state-of-the-art furniture for kids. The ergonomic chairs are flexible and help support their growing bones.

They keep their books and pens in this file which lifts out when they need them






H. was so excited I could help out at Camp Day! Here, she's eating a sausage sanger for lunch.





Tents for Camp Day








Toasted marshmallow squashed between two biscuits. Missy declared it delicious!


Potato and spoon race - an interesting take on the traditional egg and spoon.






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