The summer of 2010 was a great time for my son. As summers go it was a time when he got to relax. He involved himself in sailing at the local sailing club mixing with children from the local town of Capodimonte and also some kids from Rome, whose parents have holiday homes in the local area.
We started to deliberate about the beginning of the school year as the summer holidays drew to a close. In Italy you often have the same teacher for the five years of elementary school. Our son had had difficulties during his first four years of elementary school. We both (my husband and I) got really tired of how unmotivated he was. How he ‘hated’ school. He was the ‘English’ boy in the class (and picked on, I might add, but that is something else). He needed to do his work in the same way as the native speakers, and the teacher did not try to present things in an inviting way. In terms of homework, there was way too much, and it was not fun. In his third year, my husband had a full on argument with the class teacher, about her method of teaching, which did not go down well.
So we moved him, and he became a different child. He spent the fifth year in a composite class with his sister. There were six children his age, and twelve in the fourth year (one being my daughter). We wondered at the time whether we made the right decision. We certainly did in terms of our son as he made some good friends. Five of the children then went to the next village for the first year of middle school together. The school even organised for all five of them to be kept together in the same group, so they didn’t feel so overwhelmed. There was lots of study to be done in that first year of middle school but my son did cope. He did have his moments, but he had some supportive teachers and showed a particular flair in the creative writing part of Italian.
Which leads me to the case of his sister. She was very, very happy at school. She had the best teachers for the first three years of elementary school, and we moved her as well, mainly with the logistics in mind. And she has found it hard. The class teacher seemed nice but she missed her friends a lot. She impressed us though, because she settled in really well. She formed some very close friendships as there were only twelve of them in her age group and she spent two years with those children.