Cameron and his best buddy Shamar.
**I don’t consider myself to be a bragger, but I’m shamelessly bragging in this post. My kids did a hard thing this year, and I’m just so grateful and proud.
The school year didn’t finish until July 17th, which was half-way through the summer for us. The school calendar vaguely resembles a year-round schedule, but there are also more school days in the UK than the U.S.
In the last week of school each of the kids had an assembly centered on a country they had been learning about in the last term. Cameron – Nigeria, Eli – Turkey, Miriam & Simon – Sri Lanka.
(Some of these pictures are from my phone and some are from my camera, so it’s mixed quality.)
Leah – Mim – Ilheme
Eli – Kayden
Eli – Tayah – Kayden – Simon – Tyler
Cameron getting his dance on to “Chop My Money” – by a Nigerian R&B duo.
Every kid has to have a teacher in his school career that he is completely in love with. Miss Mustafa was that teacher for Cameron. She had so much confidence in him, and he thrives on validation.
The last day of school. Cam was supposed to wear green, Simon was supposed to wear a white t-shirt and Mim was supposed to wear her P.E. kit. Eli (per the usual) had no idea what he was supposed to wear.
On the last day of school all the children dressed in their costumes and they did a parade around the neighborhood. It was really fun to watch and they had loud music and the kids were just so hyper about summer that everyone was having a fab time.
Some kids from Eli’s class. Tayah is standing on Eli’s right, and she has been the sweetest and most loyal friend to Eli. I could tell several stories about how she has a way with cheering him up when no one else can. Despite frequently being the Eli-Kayden third wheel, she always stuck around. I love her.
Miss Sharline (on the left) was the TA in Mim’s class, but she held things together during the transition from Mrs. Waterman to Mrs. Haynes (on the right.) Mrs. Waterman had twin girls after the second term, so Mrs. Haynes was just Mim’s teacher for the last term.
Miss Katia was the TA in Cameron’s classroom. She is from France and her accent is as lovely as she is.
Mrs. Hassan was the perfect teacher for Eli. I really couldn’t have dreamed up someone more qualified to suit his personality. She was gentle and compassionate but also firm and knew just when push Eli a little. I get teary-eyed every time I think of her.
Miss Dharti was the TA in Eli’s class and she was also fantastic. She is really pleasant and kind. My kids were just so blessed with their teachers this year.
I had no idea how difficult it was going to be for Cameron to make this transition from his school in Kuna to Lucas Vale. I completely underestimated the way it would affect him. For one thing- Kuna is rural Idaho. Reed Elementary had sprawling grassy fields and the school itself was spread out and spacious. Lucas Vale is classic inner city, no grass anywhere, tall brick building with a concrete playground. The kids at Reed Elementary come from families that more or less are very similar to Cameron’s family, and most of them come from conservative often religious families. For lack of a better word, they are sheltered. (And I mean that in a good way, protected and innocent.) The new kids Cameron was meeting were city kids, a little rough around the edges with older siblings, and I think he heard bad language and jokes that were shocking and uncomfortable for him. In Kuna he had friends from church and
friends from the football team he’d played on for three years. He had so much in common with his classmates. At Lucas Vale he didn’t know anyone. No one cared about American football. His world was turned completely upside down. Then to top it all off, he became completely overwhelmed and anxious about a new curriculum, new academic styles and programs and he was behind.
The first few months I think each day Cameron went to school with a knot in his stomach. But he really blossomed. He made friends, he learned about the sports here that really mattered. (Soccer/football and cricket.) He picked up really quickly on the differences between educational processes here and with the help of good teachers he really excelled. He began to appreciate the diversity, and I think, he even felt some gratitude for it. I’m really proud of him.
I had expected that the transition would be the hardest on Eli because of his introverted nature. But on the first day of school, in a moment of what must have been divine inspiration, Mrs. Hassan paired Eli up with Kayden to show him around and help him find his way. They have been inseparable ever since. Of course they occasionally have their little quarrels, but it’s always short-lived and they are back at each other’s side. Eli doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve like Cameron does, so it was harder for me to tell how he was really feeling about Lucas Vale and his school experience. But in general he seemed to just take things as they came, and he really adapted well. He was a little behind as well, like Cameron he had to learn how to write in connectives and adopt new ways of learning. By the end of the year he had caught up to where he needed to be, and then some. He was in the chess club and he and Cameron both were in a math club.
The extent of Mim’s schooling prior to moving to London was four hours a week of co-op preschool. So to go into full seven-hour days was a lot for her. Sometimes she cried and begged me to stay home. She really wanted to be in Simon’s school, which was only three hours and was mostly just free-flow learning through play. When she was AT school she was happy and social and I could tell she enjoyed it once the day began, but when she came home she was completely exhausted.
I think it was hard for Mim to find one or two really good friends she could consistently count on to play with, but she has a fun personality and she got along with most of the kids in her class. A lot of the girls in Eli and Cameron’s class loved to dote on the little fair-skinned blonde American girl as well. When we would go to the park after school there were always older girls who wanted to push her on the swing or play with her.
Mim learned to read pretty quickly into the school year, which is one of my favorite milestones in my childrens’ lives. I LOVE watching my kids learn to read and discover their new skill that engages them in their world. She still loves to read the adverts on the bus and all the signs wherever we go. She is a really great reader, which Richard and I just laugh about because if we were in the states she would just be starting kindergarten this fall. (I’m pretty sure I’m not attentive enough as a mother to teach my kids to read if they aren’t having it reinforced at school.)
School for Simon was nothing less than bliss. It wasn’t mandatory, so if I wanted to keep him home, I did. But he loved going to school. He was a bit shy at first, but it didn’t take long for him to steal the hearts of his teachers. He learned to write his name within the first few weeks of school and just a few other math and letter basics. He is really excited to start Reception next year.
What a year! It was intense and long and stressful and overwhelming, but we did it. I think we’ve all learned so much, and I feel really fortunate to have this experience for myself and my kids.