On Monday the kids had orientation at their new school – Shanghai American School. SAS is an American school because they use an American curriculum and much of the staff is from the U.S, but it is an international school in the sense that it is not a school run by the local Chinese government, and its faculty and students come from 45 different countries.
We left Amirah with a babysitter and arrived at the school first thing in the morning. Right off the bat school staff recognized us, we are the only family with four kids attending, covering all three divisions. (Elementary, middle and high school.) The admissions administrator we had been working with through the whole application process identified each of the kids by name, which I think went a long way to help them feel at ease. (They were all really nervous.) We split up and Mim and Si got to meet their teachers, Cam and Eli did some activities and math and language assessments while Richard and I covered the logistics of lunch cards and transportation, and then we all had lunch.
Wednesday is the first day of school. A bus will pick up the kids (along with a group of other kids in our neighborhood) at 7:05am. It’s about a 30-40 minute bus ride to school. When the day is done the bus brings them back home. Once sports and clubs and after school activities begin there will be later bus options.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a private school person. It was never what I imagined for my kids. But it’s the only option in Shanghai, and I do feel really grateful for the resources my kids will have and the experiences and opportunties they will get. I just wish all kids could have this chance.
In spite of all the wonderful things that await my kids at their new school, nothing can erase the scary and overwhelming parts of starting over. I know they are each feeling apprehension and sadness about it and I feel that myself on their behalf.
Forever and always I will sing the praises of teachers, and already after the orientation yesterday I know my kids are in good hands.