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SWITCHING SCHOOLS
We spent this past week school shopping for Martin. He had expressed a desire to switch schools already back at the beginning of the year, but we didn't get off our duffs until just recently, when suddenly realizing that if we were going to make the switch, we needed to do it NOW. As in, RIGHT NOW.

He's in the middle of sixth grade and we live in Eslöv's kommun. A kommun is relatively analogous to a county, and even though we live right on the border between two counties, in fact our village is split in half by the river that marks the boundary line, we ended up with Eslöv instead of Lund. And unfortunately, Eslöv is much the poorer in both money and resources, at least when it comes to small village schools like ours and small junior highs, like the one Martin would have automatically attended next year, which was also 20 minutes away in Löberöd, in the wrong direction.

At the beginning of his sixth-grade year, Martin's class dropped from 26 to 18. 3 of the children actually moved, but the rest switched schools because their parents either didn't want them to go to the country school next year or because they wanted to take advantage of the advanced curriculum and resources offered by next-door Lund county. In Lund, the kids start their third language elective in sixth grade (on top of Swedish & English), instead of waiting until seventh, for example. If we had waited to switch Martin at the beginning on next year, he would be a year behind the Lund kids at that point, instead of the half-year he is now. In addition, the Löberöd school, which we had heard when we moved to Flyinge 12 (!) years ago was a good one, has declined in quality and in the national statistics. There were other factors as well, including long gaps in the class schedules where the kids are actually free for up to two hours between lectures and the fact that the open campus allowed them to roam the village or end up at other children's homes in the middle of the day without supervision that had me really upset.

At an information meeting two weeks ago, which we attended at the Löberöd school with Martin and the parents of several other kids from our village and the 2 neighboring ones, we were not terribly impressed with anything we heard. That jump-started both of us, and we decided to check out the 2 schools in Lund that we knew the other kids in Martin's class had switched to.

One was Kunskapsskolan in south Lund and the other was the Bilingual Montessori School which is on the north side. Anders and Martin attended an information meeting at the first, at which they were VERY impressed. The school has a very forward-thinking curriculum and teaching plan which leaves a great deal of the planning and responsibility for goal-setting up to the student. Very Montessori in many ways, from all we could tell. We arranged school visits for Martin for both schools and he spent Thursday at the first and today at the second.

Yesterday, after a full day at Kunskapsskolan, Anders & I picked him up, had a guided tour of the premises by the School Assistant, and sat in on the end of day gathering for 1 of the 4 sixth grader groups. I was appalled at how dirty the school was, quite frankly, and also at how very chaotic everything was. Party due to the end of the day excitement, I'm sure, but I was actually not too thrilled with what I saw, despite thinking that the teaching method had definite appeal and that the teachers all seemed very friendly. Martin told me later that only 1 kid, apart from the 3 kids he knew from Flyinge, even talked to him. The school has over 300 kids in grades 6-9. But we had heard good things from the Flyinge kids that we had talked to AND their parents, so were still willing to give it a chance.

Today, we took Martin to BMSL and what a difference. I know that appearances are only a small part of the picture, but the school was clean, well-kept and the kids were well-behaved and there was no sense of the chaos and crowding that I had sensed at the other school. Even though the principal was late for her appointment with us, we still had a tour of the school and she gave us information, answered all our questions, introduced us to several teachers and talked to us for nearly an hour and a half. Martin disappeared into the sixth grade class and had a great day. This school has around 300 kids as well, but in the 6-9 grades there are only 45 kids and they have a floor and a half to themselves. It's a fairly new school, and that also probably helped in the difference between the two.

I picked Martin up at 2, and we talked all the way home. He was bouncing with excitement and declared that BMSL was his choice, hands-down. The kids and teachers had all been friendly and welcoming...everyone had talked to him and asked him about himself; he liked the atmosphere and the classes. Well, okay then! He already has a spot confirmed at both schools, so now it's just a matter of calling to tell them we'll take the one at BMSL and informing the school in Flyinge that he'll be switching as of the end of this term, which is two weeks away. He'll start the new school on January 11th.

They take care of all the logistics with switching his status from the county and we don't have to pay anything to do the switch. The only thing we have to work out is the logistics of getting him to and from school, but since BMSL is located only blocks away from my office, I can drop him off in the mornings and he can walk the 15 minutes up to my work when his school day is over and by the time he gets there, it's only about 15-30 minutes until I'm ending my day. So the only days we'll need to worry about are when I have to work late or someone is sick or I'm not in the office.

He doesn't seem nervous at all about the switch, even though he'll have a bit of catching up to do and will also be dumped straight into French as well, because the Bilingual Montessori School is actually TRIlingual. They hold their regular classes in Swedish, English and French! And they offer Spanish on top of that, and when we told her he really wants to take German, she said, "Great! We will push to get that into place as well."

Whew!

Blindingly Bright & Beautiful Birthday Wishes to americantjej and Belated Ones to georgiamars!
 pleased
mood: pleased
music: No Doubt—Don't Speak


Comments
(Anonymous)
Joy here

Great job. :) You know, Liz, Martin would not have these choices in the US. Yes, sure, some of them but five languages? I am impressed with Martin's ambition!

Re: Joy here

He'll probably skip Spanish in favor of German...but just the fact that he'll have four languages blows my mind!

It sounds like a good move.
One of my regrets with my children was that I had no second, third, fourth, etc. language to share with them as they were growing up.

It's pretty amazing that he'll have at least 3 languages and most likely 4! I didn't get to start my second language until 8th grade, and he's been bilingual since birth. So cool!

Very cool indeed!!!

(Anonymous)
great news for martin!

what a great way for martin to start the year! and what a big life change--wow! bet you are all happy this is resolved and behind you now--2010 is gonna be grand! bisous bp

Re: great news for martin!

2010 is, indeed, gonna be grand. And I truly believe I will see you during it!

Sounds great! My niece is currently going through the process of choosing a middle school for next year, in Brooklyn. They have to apply and take entrance exams or do an audition and all kinds of stuff one usually only expects at a later age. And that's for public schools (albeit in Brooklyn and Manhattan). It's so nice that Martin could choose and even nicer that it seems like a welcoming place and that he'll be excited about it.

We only had to apply and be assured of an open spot. I can't imagine having to take entrance exams or auditions or such for an upper elementary or junior high! EEK!

(Anonymous)

I am so thrilled for him!!! That is an excellent sounding school and to be freindly to boot! I just wish my kids had a choice as well about the opportunities they have in school but we are so small here that there is not even an advanced cuuriculum for them. :(

I know Martin will be thrilled with his new school.
Seester

I know...I think your area is much more limited, sadly. And you really need that advanced curriculum!!

I know it must be a relief to all of you to have Martin on a better track in school. I hope he makes the transition easily. I wish they had all those language options in the US!

It's a HUGE relief. We'll be quicker to get Karin switched when the time comes.

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

Isn't it great how things work out? I am so glad for Martin (and for you) that the second school was so much better (on all accounts,really) and that he is as excited as can be! Sometimes you can almost see life unfold the way it was supposed to, and that is amazing isn't it?

Re: From Megsie

I'm thrilled, honestly. I know it's a still a "young" school and know it's not perfect, but still, I think it is a very good choice for him. Life is amazing, it's so true!

(Anonymous)

I am boggling over the fact that in his present school, he could wander away from it? Like, that's okay? I know we're overprotective here in the States but just NO! I am so happy for Martin that he's going to be in a school that makes him happy. These middle school years are difficult enough as it is, so hopefully being in a good educational situation will help all the preteen turmoil...his new school sounds amazing! I love hearing about different kinds of schools, it's so fascinating to me!

:) Sam

p.s. If you are going to see BP this year, maybe you will see me, too? I am seriously planning on SQUAM in the fall!

It's not his present school, it's the one that he would have gone to in the fall for 7th grade.

It would be SO awesome to see you, too!! I have a hard time planning around Squam unfortunately. I can't get there just for that; no way I can afford it. And even this last time, it almost coincided but it was off just enough that I couldn't swing it. I don't know from year to year if I will be able to do the business trip to the States, so we have to wait and see, but O! I sure hope so!!

a good fit (w/his school) is so critical at his age. glad you've found one that you all like. (have to say though...appalled that that one school has an open campus for children that young...yikes!)

It's actually really common here in Europe. Very very different from the US, for sure.

This is great news. Martin seems very responsible to be willing to move from his friends in order to go to a better school and you must be very proud. Many kids would not separate from their friends. I was very proud of Kyra (Daisy) when she decided that she wanted to go to a different school than her friends (for grades 7 & 8) because it was a very music-centric school. Now we are checking out high schools (how is that possible?) since she'll be starting grade nine in September. We both totally fell in love with one of the school of the arts where she could major in dance, but also take drama, voice, etc. as electives. Unfortunately, it's a very difficult school to get into since it is state of the art in design and is specifically geared for kids interested in a future in the arts. Only 125 students are accepted into grade 9 out of over 500 applications. There is an audition process and Kyra is feeling very good in that area because of her nine years of ballet and this year in contemporary. It will come down to the interview process, which I am not worried about, and the luck of the draw. She and I will be terribly disappointed if she doesn't get accepted there however. I can see her thriving there and I worry about her feeling out of place in a strictly academic school. Luckily, the high school across the street from us does have a better than average music and theatre program so at least she has a backup. However, we will be crossing our fingers and toes that she gets accepted to the arts school.

Martin doesn't actually feel like he is switching from his friends as he isn't particularly close to anyone at his current school or in our neighborhood, despite having grown up with them all. And he does know at least one of the kids in the new school that is in his new class (she switched from his current school at the beginning of the year).

I'm holding thumbs for your daughter that she gets in to the school she wants!!

Re: Statistics

www.skolverket.se is where you can find them...there is a menu choice for Statistics (the site is available in English), but I don't know if the statistics databases are.

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