As any immigrant,new or not so new would probably tell you, Canadian Education system was one of the most important reason they decided to pack their bags from their corner of the world and moved to this corner of the globe.
Having very recently moved to Canada from Mumbai via 10 years in Dubai,me and my family were no exception.
So there we were,enjoying the last long and a wet weekend before the school opened for the first time in Canada for my elementary school going daughter and wife and I were sort of coming to terms with the fact that the public school students in Canada were not required to be ‘ uniformed ‘ !!
Although, I am sure there are socio-psychological reasons for this wise move, from the parents point of view this was every morning’s crisis as the kids when allowed to dress up as they want to for school are liable always err on the side of throwing of throwing caution to the wind leading to a tense stand off with the mom or dad !
By the way,it is really quite interesting to see the term ‘back to school’ being completely hijacked in Canada by the marketers of different products and services.I mean, back to school promotions for stationery items,kiddy clothes, shoes, cereals and computing devices make complete sense but to see different banks,walk in shower companies,real estate agents,television service providers,mortgage agents and even lawyers trying to roll with back to school offers seems like stretching the marketing dollar a bit too far.
First day of the school arrived and off we went walking those 400 metres to the school with me being totally grateful for the fact that in Canada,a kid cannot be denied admission to a school in his/her immediate neighborhood.All the schools
have their virtual boundaries encompassing the neighborhoods and students are admitted accordingly.
Coming from Dubai where my kids traveled 30 kilometers one way and Mumbai where although the distance was barely 3 kilometers,the travel time was anywhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes due to traffic conditions this school was like hop,skip,jump and there.
At the school itself, the experience was…well… quite Canadian !! The principal himself came up and first chatted with me and then with my 9 year old making her and me completely at ease.My daughter’s teacher then came down with couple of students and escorted her to her classroom, chatting with her all all the time to make her feel comfortable. And I was remembering my time in Dubai where to speak with the school principal you probably needed to book an appointment at least week days in advance.
It was back to the normal routine for me and pretty soon it was 3 pm and time to bring my fourth grader back from the school.The sheer joy on her face as she ran towards me to give a big hug told me that adjustment to a new school environment was not going to be a problem for her.
Lunch etc over, I asked my daughter, how was the first day at School?Oh it was awesome she said, my teacher and other kids in the class were all so nice although they did have a tough time getting my name right.
Ok, I said, what did you do at school today?
We all wrote our names on the board and the new students told the class from which school or country they moved here.
Then we played pop quiz in which we were asked to name all the provinces and territories that make up Canada although I could name only Ontario,Quebec and British Columbia, she sighed.
It was then time to eat although I was not allowed to as I had nutella sandwich in my lunch box and anything with nuts is strictly forbidden in all the schools in Canada as other kids may have serious allergies to different nuts !!
After that we all watched the movie DESPICABLE ME although I could not hear anything as all the kids were making too much noise !!
Our class teacher then distributed the ‘agenda ‘ to all the kids in the class which the parents have to fill and also sign daily.
By now I was totally perplexed and asked her, Hello…. were you taught anything in the class or it was only fun and games?
Of Course, we were, she replied animatedly, we had a very interesting lesson on Sex Education and tomorrow we have another one !!