On Tuesday I attended a tour of the Shinfield Nursery and Infant school just down the street from our house. It’s on the opposite side of a field so it is actually faster to walk over then to drive, it would be ideal for Kellen. Every child in the UK gets 15 hours of Nursery school (preschool) per week once they turn 3, now that Kellen is 2 ½ I figured it was time to get him enrolled. So Kellen, Ella and I headed down to the school and took the tour. It seems like I learn a few new things about this country each week, this week I learned that an Infant school goes from Nursery through year 2 then kids move on to Primary, I also learned that I’ve waited way to long so we are now on a wait list for a spot at the school.
The early education system here in the UK is similar to the US but has its differences. The 2 years of nursery school are foundation year 1 and foundation year 2. The first foundation year is what I would normally think of as preschool. The activities are very child driven; they really focus on just getting the kids into the routine of going to school and listening to a teacher. The lessons are minimal although they do have music and work on art projects. In foundation year 2 the school begins to prep the kids for school and integrates them into the broader school a bit more. I was surprised to see that by year 1, equivalent to our Kindergarten, the kids were already working on literacy (reading) through phonics and many were doing some basic reading. There are also nursery schools that are not combined with an infant school so in that case the kids go to 2 years of nursery then straight into the primary school. I really like the idea of having the school focus on just the very young kids and a smooth transition into the first 2 years of primary school before going into a school with kids as old as 10 or 11. We are officially on the waitlist so I’ll continue to look at other local nursery schools and hopefully by early April we’ll know for sure where Kellen will start in September. As a side note the building has been a school for the last 300 years, I think that’s kind of cool.
On Saturday we had an American family over for dinner, they moved when their son was the same age as Kellen and have been here for 5 years now. It’s interesting because their son has a British accent he developed through school. I was curious about whether they used the American words for things or the British, they are surprisingly different. In our house we have already started using football instead of soccer to eliminate confusion when Kellen is at his weekly football lesson but we don’t use any other British words and I feel a bit silly saying rubbish bin instead of garbage can. Patrick is the one that has picked up the most sayings but I think a lot of it is middle school speak. Their son picked most of it up just through school and for many things he only uses the British word, and since that’s what he calls it the family follows. So maybe eventually we will all be saying torch instead of flashlight. One tip they did give us is the word pants. Here pants means underwear and they use the word trousers, for Kellen’s sake I’m trying to say trousers so that he doesn’t get to school and about his pants getting dirty or something.
So if next Christmas when we’re home visiting we sound like Madonna with slight British accents that sound kind of forced, just know that it’s for Kellen’s sake and not us being pretentiousJ.