Rocket boy has now made the transition to group three at his Dutch school. This is they year that it gets serious – he starts reading, writing and doing sums. He has his own desk and tray underneath for his things. Each child has been given a set of colouring pencils, felt tip pens, a pencil, an eraser, and a pencil case to put them all in.

After his first week it seems to be going well. They’ve learnt their first few words (ik/I, maan/moon & roos/rose) and have flip books and letter tiles to expand their knowledge and create new words with those letters. And they’ve started their first work books for writing numbers and sums. Rocket boy finds it tiring, but he does enjoy it. He seems to be really keen to get to school in the morning, and take out whatever he was working on the day before to show me. And to carry on working on it. He also likes being able to play outside in the front playground with all the older children, as the younger classes play in a separate area at the back.

From this class up they also have a weekly trip to a bigger gym for their gym classes, so there is a weekly crocodile down the road there and back. This takes them past our house, so I made sure to be sitting by the window when they were due to go past last week so I could look out and see them crossing the road. Rocket boy was a bit bemused by it when I told him afterwards, and starry girl got tired of waiting, especially the second time!  So maybe I won’t do it again, though part of me wants to do it every week. They will also have regular trips to the local library too. So they will get out of the building alot more than he did previously.

They will also continue to do art and craft, and have regular music incorporated into their lessons. He seems to watch music videos a few times a week so far (last week it was Dirk Scheele and Michael Jackson!), and said they were doing lots about cymbals yesterday. The whole school has also started a new focus on technology, and building things, so he will do activities related to those too. I’m not clear yet on the details, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Their classroom has two computers for them to use (the class is 21 I think), as well as the computer suite in a separate room. So he will start to use a computer more too. And they will also have regular times when they can choose which of a series of activities they can do. Most of these will be literacy themed, but they will have the freedom to decide what they want from the list.

I am incredibly proud of him that his vocabulary and grasp of Dutch grammar were good enough that his teacher last year was confident that he was ready for it. With an autumn birthday he’s on the cusp of the split between years and so it could have gone either way. They do seem to treat the children individually here, and make individual decisions for whether they are ready to go up. Especially for the step up into group three. And for him it literally is a step up as his classroom is now on the first floor!

The downside to making the decision about each child individually is that there are some of his friends who are still in the group1/2 class. But to help ease the transition he gets the opportunity once a week to go back there for an afternoon to play with them. At least until the end of October.

I’m trying to encourage what he’s doing, but be led by the school so that I don’t mis-teach him. My Dutch is OK, but I want him to be better than that. And when he’s ready to start learning to read in English I will be there to help. Though I’m not going to push him into that before he’s ready.

This is the start of his formal education, and there’s no looking back now!

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