Thursday, 13 October 2016

Rant of the day: School hours

After 5 years of caring for my children (and very well I have to say), my childminder has decided to let me down. The reason? She's exhausted doing the school run. In fairness, she has kids of her own in another school and she minds 3 other kids apart from mine, so I guess she feels like she's spending more time in her car than at home.

But the real problem here is that Irish schools really make parents' life difficult.

In a way, I want to praise the Irish education system. Kids have a good routine, they go to school everyday for 5 or 6 hours, Monday to Friday. In France  there is always a big debate about school hours and days: 4 days or 4 and a half day? If it's the latter, should they have school on Wednesday morning or Saturday morning? The days are longer: 9 until 4:30pm at least in primary school, with before school and after school care within the grounds of the school. I'm sure it's tough for the kids and come Friday, they must be exhausted.

I'm not blaming the education in itself either. So far I've been very happy with my local school, the teacher who is helping my special needs son, and the curriculum. The only thing that would bother me a bit is the over-emphasis on the first communion this year as my son is doing it. But hey, I put him in a state Irish school, so I have to deal with the consequences I suppose (The consequences being the compulsory monthly mass I have to attend...).

What I'm actually fed up about is the fact that the school day ends at a different time depending what class your child is in.  I have one child in Junior infants and the other one in Second class. The youngest finishes at 1:40pm and the eldest at 2:40pm.

Seriously, what are parents or carers supposed to do during that dead hour? Stay in the car? Spend 20 mns exiting the car park, go home for 20 minutes and go back to school? And I'm not even mentioning the fortune you'd spend on petrol if you do 3 journeys to and from school everyday...

I am complaining, but the truth is, I don't even drop or collect my kids from school (bad mum I know), but I can completely understand why my childminder has given up after one month of a daily struggle.

I know the school has started to have some after school activities, but they all start at 2:40 as well, so what do I do if I want my 1:40 child to attend one of them? Well, suck it up I think and tell him he will have to wait 2 years to be able to go to the Lego club after school... That's actually the reason why my eldest didn't do any afterschool activities the first two years. The childminder couldn't have coped with the amount of travelling. By the way, did I mention the afterschool club only lasts for 45 minutes?

Anyway, I suppose this is all in the interest of the children, which is understandable, and as parents, we are supposed to put their needs and well-being before ours. But surely an over-stressed mother or childminder, going crazy because she spends most of her afternoon being a taxi driver is not going to do them any favours.

In the end, I think the Irish education system is really adapted to the needs of the children (which again is the most important thing), but they obviously didn't think about the parents.

As for us, we found a good after-school creche that will pick them up from school, supervise homework, and offer daily activities. They will even give them 4pm, but I guess I can't have everything!!

If you're an expat parent, what do you think about your host country's education system?