Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The First Day Of School - German Style

Well, we now have our first day of school behind us.

The kids started school yesterday. Spencer and Shantal are now in the third grade. And Hannah is in first grade. First Grade is when the kids enter the Elementary School here in Germany (Einschulung). And when that happens, well, let's just say.....it is a HUGE deal. We have also described the day in Episode 9 of our Living in Germany podcast.

This is how the first day of school went yesterday for Hannah. All festivities began at 10am. We met at the Lutheran Church where there was a combined Lutheran and Catholic service. After a 45 minute service, we all walked to the school. That was about a 15 minute walk. Then there was an assembly at the school. It was a good 45 minutes long as well. Perhaps even longer. All the classes in the school did some sort of presentation. Some were songs, dances, poems. Stuff like that. Then, it came time that they called the kids to go with their teacher to class. The kids spent 45 minutes in the classroom and the family and visitors all waited outside for the kids to come out. When the class time was over, the kids came out and we all went home.

But afterwards, everyone had parties, special dinners, etc., planned. Family came for this special occasion from long distances to be a part of the big day. Grandparents, aunts, friends. I couldn't believe how many people came. It was treated as if it was a Graduation from High School in America. And to top it off.....The kids got what is called a Schultüte, schultuete, or school cone. It is a big shaped cone filled with presents. It was amazing to see these school cones in person. Many of the school cones seemed larger than the children carrying them. I actually made Hannah's. It has a Lillifee on the front. Which means Lilli Fairy. But some people went ALL out for these.

Now, to talk about what happened with Hannah on her first day of school. We got to the church for the service and they had the kids sit on the first 5 rows. Of course, Hannah did not want to and stood by us in the back of the room. They gave us a big strip of yellow paper for us to write a wish that we had for Hannah during the school year. At one point in the service, The kids all took their strips up and it made the rays for the sun. I got Hannah to go up and of course, I had to go with her. Anyway, while we were up there, a girl named Debbie asked Hannah to come sit next to her. And Hannah did. I was so happy. BUT....that happiness was short lived by Hannah. A bit later in the service, The pastors called all the children up so that they could give the kids a blessing. Hannah immediately started crying and came over to find me.

After the service was over, we walked back to the school. Hannah was walking with two friends, Debbie and Lena. We got to the school and they did the assembly. Once again, the kids were sitting on the first 3 rows. Hannah this time DID sit with the kids. I think it is because I was just 2 rows behind her. She could see me and touch me if she needed to. But, when it came to go to the classes, the principal called out the kids names and they were supposed to come up as the kids names were called. Well, Hannah's name is last on the list due to our last name beginning with a W. Everyone was already gone. And Hannah just started crying and saying she didn't want to. I got up and seriously DRAGGED her to the front of the stage where the kids all went. Then I had to pick her up and carry her to the classroom. Of course, all the parents were laughing. That did not help at all. I got her up to her classroom and her teacher asked if she was in her class. I of course responded with a Yes. And she said, "Do your daughter a favor and just put her down and leave." I did just that. As I started to walk away, the fire alarm went off. I think that startled everyone a bit and helped distract Hannah with what really was happening.

So while she was in the classroom, I was outside with the kids, Gardner and other parents. They served Mineral Water while we waited. Mineral Water is what they drink the most here. If you ask for water, Mineral Water is what you will be given. It was a hot day, so it was a nice offering due to the heat.

After about 45 minutes, the kids came out. Hannah was happy and said her teacher was really nice. All the kids got their School Cones and gathered together to get a class picture.

To me.....it all seemed SO over-rated, but Gardner loved it. This big day. I felt it was too long for the kids who were going to school. Sure, maybe the adults like this stuff. But it seemed like too much on the first day of school. And why all the grandparents, friends of the family, and extended family? Seriously, for what there was, it just seems so odd. I have to add that Nadine, one of our exchange students we have had live with us when we were in America, came up for to spend with Hannah on her special day. And that was nice.

Here are pictures from yesterday. You can see the back packs they use here, the School Cones, the massive amounts of people.
The Lutheran Church where the Service was held.
Gardner, Tamara, Nadine, Emma and Ian with Hannah.
The Walk to the School.
The German Style Backpacks (Tornister, Schulranzen).
Hannah waiting for the assembly to start.
Family and Friends lined up EVERYWHERE to watch.
Students coming out of class.
Hannah coming out of class.
Where Hannah sits in class.
Trying to get a class picture.
Still a class picture.
Hannah with her Schultüte (schultuete, German School Cone).
Hannah in front of our house with her Lillifee school cone.

Hannah reaching in to get something out.

Hannah showing off her Chocolate Surprise Eggs.


Tracy said...

It really is amazing how differently they do things in other countries. What a busy day for Hannah.

Heredia Family/Yvie said...

Wow! What a big day for Hannah!! Glad at the end she was happy to be there and liked her teacher.

Love her cone!!

JamieLynn said...

Wow, how cool! I love all the celebration and the cones. What cute little backpacks!! Hope she has a wonderful year!!

Heather said...

Wow! What an event! I think it sounds a little over done too. However, where I taught we had kid coming to school one, sometimes two weeks late because they forgot when school started!

Suzy said...

Wow, It seems so different there! At least she looked happy in the pictures you took. You did a great job on the cone too!

Coleen said...

Awww I'm happy that she opened up more by the end of the day! That does sound like a LOT in a day, though. Also, I don't blame her for crying about some strange man wanting to give her a blessing in a church that she doesn't know, hehe.

Conibaer said...

What a day! I guess there weren´t that many people coming when I started school. Looks like it´s like with a lot of things: they have to be bigger and better than last year. Who knows where this is going to stop?
Great that Hannah looks like a lucky girl with her Schultüte and her new teacher!

Kathy said...

She's such a little cutie, Tamara. Sounds like a wonderful day.

Suzanne said...

What an amazing welcome to school for the children. The cone you made was absolutely beautiful. I just found your blog and have enjoyed reading about the adventures of anothe Expat overseas.

Tamara Wheeler said...

thanks for all the great comments. It was a great day and Hannah continues to have a great year.

The Parkers said...

I love your blog! I have a little girl starting kindergarten in a few weeks, and I can't wait to make her Schultute (carrying on a tradition my German mother did with me)! I think it's great that such a big deal is made for these kids- maybe it'll reinforce what a big deal education is all together. Thanks so much for sharing!

March 2007