Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Starting Universa Via

In the month before school started our expectations and plans for the school year turned around. It was a big change that we hope will be for the best.

In Lithuania the start of school is September 1 and it is like a holiday. Children take flowers to teachers, parents attend ceremonies with the children and they don't have a full day (and the whole first week was nor full days)

Universa Via is a private school that is not specifically Catholic or Christian, but all the same emphasizes spiritual life, and chooses the local Catholic parish as a means of promoting that to some extent.

The opening day included a service at the large Catholic church across the street form the school, and just up the road a short bit from LCC. It was a new experience for the boys. And a trying one for mom. The boys have difficulty sitting in any church service and their anticipation of this new school experience made it so much harder.

After the service there was a short ceremony- actually entertaining in the school yard and then the children and parents went into the classroom for some activities that introduces teachers and children. We also learned then that David would have a different teacher than ERik- which we think is good.

There is one group of 6 year olds- the usual age for kindergarten and one for 5 year olds, though Erik says there are 5 year olds in his group too. The difference in the 2 groups really is how fast or detailed they work through the material. And often the 4-5 year olds repeat that class twice.

Since this is connected to an elementary/jr. high school, it follows the schedule of the school rather than if we stayed where we were it would follow the rythmn of day care/preschool.

This school has an emphasis on healthy food as well, no pork! That is quite a statement in Lithuania. Erik came home yesterday, the first he was there for lunch and had not eaten a thing. We are going to have trouble with him. He is quite stubborn. David is eating there so far without trouble. (But at home he has started to be stubborn about eating whenever he does not like the limits we set)

This school has a learning program 9 till 1:30 and then activities are optional or there can be free play. Optional activities will include dance class, European football (Soccer), music, art, theater and so on. And this is included in the fees.

The director realized that we have adopted these boys by some other questions we asked and she offered that they could consider reducing the entrance fee because of that. She also decided to decrease the monthly fee for the second child by 20% which we really appreciate!

We had not planned this school into our budget but after wondering and praying about what to do about our boys' needs throughout the summer, it really seemed like this would be the answer. More attention, smaller classes, no naps which makes going to bed at night - esp. getting to sleep so much easier, and the potential for addon of English instruction too when they are ready for it.

Some things about the schedule are still developing and we are told it will not settle into a regular pattern until October.

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