There are a few differences between my children's schools in France vs. their schools in Berkeley, CA. Here is my list...
- Bijou's school has no playground. None! She said that they set up a couple of ping pong tables and bring out some balls at recess. Apparently, the girls just talk and do those hand clapping games and braid each other's hair. The boys play ball or hide in the bushes and spy on the girls.
- In addition to the nap time bedding we were to provide for Eero and Wilder at their preschool, we were also required to supply two cloth napkins for them to use at lunch each day. The lunch room has a wall of mini cubbies for the cloth napkins to be stored, sent home on Fridays to be washed. So civilized!
- Bijou has mastered the use of a knife during her school lunches. In addition to eating her meal in courses, starting with vegetables (smart!), she is given a full set of utensils. I guess I can finally stop cutting up the meat into pieces for at least one of my kids.
- Chocolate milk and baguette is the morning snack at preschool.
- Bijou does not have any snack in the morning at school.
- The kids don't bring water bottles to school and the school does not have drinking fountains. Instead, each classroom is fitted with a sink and a stack of cups.
- Lovies in France are called Doudous. Wilder has been very onboard that his green frog lovey, named DeeDee, is called Doudou in France.
- Two kisses for the greeting "hello," one kiss for "goodbye." The teachers even greet the kids with two kisses. My heart melted the other day when I watched a 3-year-old in E & W's class greet their other 3-year-old friend with two kisses.
- The French teachers at the boy's preschool have never seen the "pushing out the door" technique that is so commonly used in the US. They find it hilarious that Eero and Wilder want to push us out the door before integrating into their classroom.
- On the first day of school, Bijou had to sign a list of rules, one of which was No Stomping In Puddles.
- Penmanship is important to the French and when Bijou wrote something incorrect in her notebook and crossed it out, her teacher ripped out the page.
Let's talk lunch... The strictness takes some getting used to but the well balanced lunches make up for it.
In France, parents don't pack lunches. The kids meals are prepared at school and the parents pay 2 euros a day. Surprisingly, my kids have really liked the lunches, veggies and all. Here are a few sample menus from this month...
Achards de légumes (pickled vegetables), Rougail de Saucisses (sausage), Riz (rice), Flan coco (coconut flan)
Radis (radish), Cordon Bleu, Haricots beurre (butter beans), Fruit
Concombres (cucumbers), Sauté de boeuf (sautéed beef), Semoule couscous (couscous), Gateau chocolate/Créme Anglaise (chocolate cake with custard)
Bijou came home and said, "Mommy, you should really try Créme Anglaise. It's really good."
On the day the dessert was riz au lait, Wilder described it as "kind of like oatmeal."
The lunch lady is pretty strict, of course, and if you don't eat your veggies, no dessert. Now if only I could adopt that strictness myself, my kids might actually eat their dinner and not be hungry for that bowl of cereal every night at bedtime.