Welcome to Big School
I accompanied my daughter for the last time today into the corridors and inner sanctum of the Primary classroom. After today I am strictly forbidden without invitation to these hallowed walls. My baby has gone to Big School. Slightly giddy with the prospect of 30 minutes to myself, at least for the next 6 weeks, I am surprised at how ambivalent I feel. With a teenage son I am no stranger to these rites of Passage, to the many firsts’ experience by all parents along the journey. But today for two reasons it’s on another level of firsts because today my youngest and last takes that bigger step into the big world, and today she is starting French school*!
This of course is not a big deal in a country like Luxembourg where we celebrate diversity in language, culture and education systems. However, just because you are not alone in sending your child to school with a different approach to education does not mean you do not feel lonely. Through my work with Passage I have had the privilege of working with parents and professionals from all types of educational systems here. I have also been living here long enough to witness the opening and gradual expansion of many public (state) and private international curriculum schools. In my experience, every school has its positive and maybe not so positive aspects, and in general when asked for guidance in choosing a school I will reply “Well, it depends…” Because there is no ‘one size fits all’, no school or system that works for all families and most importantly all children.
In fact many parents I have met, including myself, have eventually had to choose between two or more different schools for their children’s individual needs. I consider myself very lucky that with a large age gap between my children this has not been such a logistical problem. Other families have often had to compromise. Let’s be honest it’s all a bit of a lottery anyhow, like parenting in general, we can only do our best with the information, resources and child (we think) we have at the time… oh and did I mention if we can actually get our child into the school of our choice.
Later that day, I’m standing in the middle of the playground at pick up and everyone it seems is communicating in some kind of tribal code I have not yet mastered. I’m still clutching my daughter’s list of rules (reglement) for entering the Primary school – her ‘passeport CP’ – the ticket to a place I may not follow and I ache for the familiarity of an English school and the British curriculum I know and love. Somehow this feels like a letting go of another sort not just of those pre-school years but also of the chance to fully participate in my child’s education. In the midst of all that noise I wonder, perhaps selfishly, if I have made the right choice. But I am not my daughter and she deserves this opportunity to grow and learn in a different way.
So if your child went to Big School (Secondary, Primary or Pre-school) this year or any school in a different language, education system, or simply just another commune you are not alone but it’s OK to feel a little lonely until you make new friends all of your own. Often as parents we take on the worries and fears of our children and mingle them with their own especially when starting something new. It’s important to know that other people have similar feelings even if they have lived here a long time. There are lots of cultural groups you can join, or activities to make adult friends to share with. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling I guarantee that most parents here will understand.
In truth, though a little bittersweet about our final choice of school (for now) I’m actually really excited for my daughter and feel blessed once again that we live in a country that gives our children so much of a multi-lingual and multi-cultural experience.
* Her school is actually Luxembourgish with a French section.
Article by: Lynn Frank who is a coordinator for Passage.
Last updated: Friday 23rd September, 2016