Celebrating school

The first of September has rolled around again, and today we braved the streets with a dressed-up son and bunch of flowers in tow, ready to start a new school year. Tiss wasn't too happy to be starting school again - which kid ever is? Although I think that on the whole he enjoys school. We all attended the first assembly today, including Mikus, who seems quietly excited that he will also go to school there.
One year into it, I have come to a reserved conclusion that the school he is attending is a good one. The Rīga Central Applied Arts Primary School is a public primary school, located in the old town - just a few blocks from home. It was established in the 19th century as a German school for applied art, and a number of well-known Latvian artists and craftsmen have gone there. Today, although it is still located in the same building, it is a regular primary school in which kids are taught all of the required primary school curriculum, but also get a double of the required dose of art and home economics. Most of the after-school interest groups are art related - ceramics, animation etc, and it seems to attract a lot of parents/families with an interest in the arts generally.
One of the great things about the school is its size - there are less than 300 students, from grades 1 - 9. As a result, you get to know most of the teachers and staff, and feel very comfortable walking into the school and finding out whatever information you need, and organising a personal approach to your own situation is no problem. The location is amazing - for excursions the kids sometimes walk around the old town, and this is also where the older grades have "plein air" pracs for the first week of the school term. However, because it's an inner city school, there is no dedicated outdoor area for the kids, which is a stark contrast from my own memories of lunch hours at school, spent outside playing hopscotch, sitting in the shade, playing on the oval...
One interesting part of primary school in Latvia is that your "home room" teacher is the same one for grades 1 - 4. This can be a blessing, if you happen to land a good teacher, who you can become very attached to over the first four years of schooling. Unfortunately for us, Tiss got an older teacher who has lost her love of teaching, and uses Soviet pedagogical methods - through instilling a great deal of fear in her students, putting them down and yelling. We have been trying to teach Tiss to get a thick skin in regards to this treatment, which has been hard, and we are very grateful that she is not the only one responsible for teaching his class.
In terms of work, last year the kids were basically taught about form, rather than content. There was a great emphasis on handwriting skills, which I found bemusing, but trust that at some point in the next couple of years the focus will shift from HOW Tiss writes, to WHAT he writes...
Apart from these and a few other things, school is good. Tiss takes after Jem in terms of popularity, and is friends with most kids in the class. When we arrived this morning you could see a real joy in the children being reunited after the summer break, and it was exciting for both parents and kids alike to wonder what this year of school will hold. The days have become suddenly colder and dare I say it, I am almost looking forward to blustery autumn and winter days, when we can sit indoors and concentrate on studying, reading and learning.

Assembly in the courtyard - very inner city...

Can you see Tiss?

Someone had the great idea of taking a class photo with all the kids squinting in the sun

Afterwards we had a celebratory cup of tea with school friends

2 Responses so far.

  1. Alex says:

    Tiss's teacher sounds like the Ukrainian School Principal I had in Adelaide. But he took things further, in that he told off any parents in the community whose kids didn't go to Uke school (because they had better things to do on a Saturday morning!)

    Anyway, your day seems like a nice way to start the school year. Everyone looks pretty dressed up - is that a tradition for the first day back?

  2. Marite says:

    Happy back to school!

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