Coffee here, coffee there, coffee everywhere

Macchinetta caffe- Italy From the Inside

Everybody knows that Italians are coffee lovers and yet, for some reasons, I was surprised to see this coffee vending machine in my son’s elementary school. However, it all makes sense: the pausa caffè (coffee break) is a must in Italy, therefore why not to give the school staff the chance to enjoy their daily caffettino in a super fast and easy way, and without leaving the premises? Bellissimo.

Our first school reports: how the kids are doing after 6 months in an Italian school

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I’m a very proud Mom. Really proud. I knew this school experience would have been hard for the kids, but to be honest, I didn’t expect the first school reports to be this good. Not because I don’t trust my kids’ abilities, but because I know that Italian schools are very demanding compared to the American ones.

For example, Silvia’s schedule is identical to the one she had last year in 6th grade: Monday through Friday, 6 periods each day. But while in the States she was done with her homework in 20-30 minutes at the most, here it takes her the whole afternoon to do it. And we are talking about 3-4 hours every day. If you add to this the fact that periodically they have a lot of tests and “interrogazioni” (where the teacher calls you out, and ask you questions in front of the class), you can imagine the scope of the pressure for a kid coming from abroad and who is not used to this system.

Obviously she had a very though time in the beginning, but since she is a very diligent and organized student, she never gave up, even when she was down and kept asking me why I threw her into such a situation (needless to say that my explanations and attempts to comfort her were useless).

So, when I went to retrieve her school report and heard the professor say that, considering the situation, she was doing great, I was thrilled. And happy to see that her efforts paid off.

Alessio also did an excellent job, to my surprise I have to say, since every day I have to beg him to do his homework and, most of all, concentration is not his forte. However, he has this superb ability to learn quickly and remember even the smallest detail just by listening.

So, if I think back to the first day of school when Silvia returned home with tears in her eyes and I felt a thousand doubts falling all over me, wondering if I was doing the right thing, now I can say that we made the right decision. I still keep telling them that this experience is a privilege that only a few kids have and that they’ll understand its benefits only when they’ll be older. They say I’m wrong, but I know, in my heart, that one day they’ll agree with me and they’ll thank Paolo and I for doing this. For now, I thank them for being such bravi ragazzi.

First days of school in Italy

The kids’ first day of school was September 12th, Wednesday. Silvia had just one introductory hour, from 11am to twelve, while Alessio started at 8am and had a regular five hour schedule (until 1pm).

He was extremely calm, certainly due to his nature (lucky him), but probably also due to the fact that he visited the school and met four teachers one week earlier. This is something I strongly recommend: getting the teachers (maestre) to know the child, his situation, background, strengths and weaknesses before the school starts is a win-win situation on both sides. And providing a copy of the kid’s last school report is a good idea as well. When I went to pick him up he was just fine, and has been since.

For Silvia things went a little differently. I tried to reach her professors (professori) beforehand with no avail up until 10 minutes before school started, when I met her Italian teacher, professoressa Zocchelli, to whom I explained Silvia’s situation: the fact that she finished 6th grade with an average of an A, that she is a very responsible student, that during the summer I taught her some Italian geography, history and grammar (obviously I didn’t mention that sometimes I literally had to drag her to our living room to study together…), and so on. Professoressa Zocchelli was super nice with her and when the bell rang she took her to class. However one hour wasn’t enough for her to get to know the kids and be known by them, with the result that she wasn’t very happy when I went to pick her up….

Now things are better, she is getting used to the Italian school system and her classmates little by little. She does complain, and does it often, but always seems serene when she comes home from school. As for me, I’m working on meeting the professors one by one, which is a very slow task since email is still not used here and communications happen through the diario (exactly like when I was a child).

Nevertheless it’s a small thing to bear, since I still think that Italian schools are among the best.

Coming from abroad, have you ever had any experience with the Italian school system?