About a month ago we moved the kids to a new school – our conventional Swedish neighborhood school. That was a great move. The kids are doing wonderfully.
Jie-jie is in Class 1 where most of the kids are 7 or 8. She is actually getting homework that is right at her level. They take her to the library so she can take out books in English but they’ve also just immersed her in the Swedish reading lessons so she is already bringing home easy readers in Swedish. Her reading in both languages has really improved. The regular schoolday runs from 8 to 1. After that is free time. The kids have specially trained teachers and do crafts, play outside, go to the gym, play board games, etc. It seems to suit Jie-jie pretty well even if it seems like a lot of unstructured time in comparison with the way we schedule enrichment activities back in the US.
We do have the kids in some extracurriculars. Jie-jie continues to take ballet. That class seems to be a good and serious one. They will perform at the end of May and I really look forward to it. She is also continuing with her suzuki violin. That is going quite well, too. They are both also taking up indoor hockey (a.k.a. floorball).
Mei-mei is in the five year old room although she is not yet five and most of the kids in there are already 6. She enjoys it. It is pretty standard preschool. One thing that is conspicuously absent in both rooms in morning circle time or morning meeting. I get the sense that such community building exercises are not prioritized here. Mei-mei gets plenty of time out on the playground and they take walks to the woods. She also gets to spend as much time on art and music as she wants (the class has ukeleles and flutes for the kids).
So, we are pretty happy with the school situation. One of the things that we have discussed is the fact that the school, which contains 50% students who are immigrants or who have parents who are immigrants, feels more comfortable for us in part because it is less homogeneous – it looks like the U.S. (even though it does not look like the school we left behind in Montpelier). A great many of the friends my kids have at school speak a language other than Swedish at home (kids are from Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Mexico and Gambia, to name a few) and can talk about experiences in other countries where they still have friends and family. I think it is nice that Jie-jie and Mei-mei can be a part of a community where their culture is still unique but their experience is not.
So, after some early floundering, we are settled on the school front.