Last week, Isaac and Liesl each had their first day of school. Liesl’s first day was Thursday.
She is attending the same Montessori preschool that Isaac did. We were so pleased with the experience, and it definitely helped Liesl’s transition because she was already familiar with the school. The program is 9:30 – 12:30, and she will attend 3 days a week. There are 10 children and 2 teachers, Mrs. Therese and Mrs. Tricia, in her class. Liesl already knows several children in the class, including her friend Kelly.
Mrs. Therese says Liesl is very chatty and articulate, so I already see ‘talking’ citations in primary school in our future! Liesl was so excited to finally go to school “like a big girl” and jumped in to everything straight away.
Isaac’s first day of Junior Infants was on Friday. In Ireland, Kindergarten is split into two years, Junior Infants and Senior Infants. Isaac attends the local National (public) primary school, St. Mochta’s. We sit in the catchment area for 3 primary schools – 2 affiliated with the Catholic church, and one Community (non-affiliated) school. We opted for a Catholic school because we had heard great things about the school, we are Catholic, and St. Mochta’s is on Brad’s route to work, making it easier for drop-off and pickup.
Isaac is in Mrs. Schmidt’s class. He doesn’t know anyone in his class yet, but his best friend, Seán, is in another Junior Infant class at the school. (Seán and Liesl’s friend, Kelly are siblings. It is so great to have a family with kids the same ages as ours! Seán and Kelly’s parents have been great helping us navigate the local school system.)
The first day was a bit rocky because we just didn’t know what to expect. Starting school is tough for both parents and kids, and it doesn’t get any easier in a foreign country. Isaac was very nervous. It didn’t help that we missed the “Junior Infant Days” in June because we were in the US. Junior Infant Days are similar to “Meet the Teacher” nights in the US. The kids come to school in the afternoon, do some activities with their future teachers, see the classrooms, etc. The school doesn’t host Junior Infant Days in August because that is a month that is typically reserved for vacations. Across Europe, many families are gone through the entire month, which makes it difficult to host a Meet the Teacher-type event. No worries though, Isaac was all smiles when we picked him up!
There are private, or ‘fee-paying’ schools in Ireland, but none are particularly convenient to where we live or work. We have decided to try the public system first, and if we need to make changes in the future, we can. Isaac will wear a uniform every day. For Junior and Senior Infants, it consists of navy blue sweatpants and sweatshirt with school crest, and a polo shirt for warmer days. Some of the girls preferred to wear the pinafore dress with shirt, tights, and dress shoes (Sooo cute!) Although he can wear the full uniform, he is not required to wear the full formal uniform until First Class (1st grade). The Irish definitely take their time getting kids adjusted to school. Isaac went to school for just 2 hours on Friday, 10-12, and the typical school day is 9:00 – 1:30, MUCH shorter than the US school day!
Since we are completely inexperienced in the Irish school system, we’ll post more details in a few weeks, once we get into the routine a bit more. There will be plenty more to share about school lunches, Irish language, books, etc.
Until then – Slán!