Monday, December 18, 2017

First grade - here we come ... maybe

First of all I have to admit that very often I have a choice - do I sit down and write something or do laundry or fill out some endless paperwork or even spend some time learning German.  As you can probably guess blog does not always win that battle ...

This, however, I feel like such an epic disaster of various proportions that I have to share.  In at least Pittsburgh (and probably most places in USA) when a child turns 5, you go to your local elementary school and sign him (her) up.  That pretty much sums up the process of getting a place in a school.  Yes, you have to fill out an application and probably provide some medical records but overall fairly straight forward.  At least that's how I remember it.

Fast forward 4 years, change a location to Germany and get ready to pour yourself a drink :)  Getting Anton into a school has been almost as painful of a process as finding Andrei the next school, and he is only 5 going into first grade.  I do have to say that his speech is still FAR from perfect and he has some other difficulties but they are undiagnosed and nobody so far has been able to tell us why he has those difficulties or how we can overcome them.  Those difficulties, however, would not cause that many problems back in America.

He goes to Vorlaufkurs which is German for foreigners in the last year of kindergarten and it's actually held at the near by elementary school with a real teacher and it been pretty awesome.  She had suggested that Anton goes to a school which in theory concentrates on kids with speech problems. I say "in theory" because I have a friend whose son goes there - according to her stories they really don't do anything special for kids and in fact the speech therapist didn't start until after the fall break.  Other than that they follow a regular Hesse curriculum.  That would be option #1.

Ilya's school is pretty much out of the question because of various issues which do include a constantly changing teachers but also they are absolutely not equipped to handle any kind of issues. Option #2 - out of the running.

Anton's speech therapist suggested getting his hearing checked to rule out any speech issues and despite the fact that he had ears checked several times by the pediatrician, we went to a super duper specialist who found some issues and suggested that maybe a school for children with hearing issues might be a good idea - option #3.

Option #4 - our regular neighborhood school but they have to accept him based on the interview, trial lesson and note from the doctor.

Every 5 year has to go to a special doctor who checks their readiness for school which is funny because school starts at 6 (in most cases) but this special doctor might tell you that the child is not ready and then if the child is deemed not ready, he goes to a yet another special school which has an American style kindergarten - aka first year of school where the kids work on some stuff but not as much as in first grade. From what I heard, the answer is always given on the spot as to whether the child is ready or not.  Anton (and I) went today and the nice friendly lady doctor was at a complete loss as to what to do with Anton.  He is clearly very ready in some ways (like fine-motor skills) and yet completely not ready in others.  She told me that she has to consult the principal of our local school as well as some other doctors to decide where to place him and will get back to me at some unknown time!  Seriously???

Stay tuned for continuation of this story which has to end by August of 2018 :)

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