Only two weeks after coming to Houston, the kids started school! The two youngest started in Kindergarden and in 5th grade and the oldest in 9th grade – a Freshman in High School. It really was not as easy as it is for me writing this though.
1- The kids had to have a truckload of new vaccinations – and even THEN – we had too few… that means we have to have more within about a month, or the children will not be allowed back in school. And unlike California, I am not allowed to just sign the dotted line and pretend I am against vaccines. They actually have to have them. I have already spent 500 USD on vaccines for them in Norway and I now fear this will be a bill that keeps on coming.
2- The elementary school where the two youngest were going to – after I had filled out 200 forms with the IDENTICAL information (my address – at least I know itnow – and the kids´names again and again and again and again – all in ink – I couldnt have done this online???) — informed me that they would be happy to take my 5th grader but that my Kindergardener (my 5 year old) was on the waiting list – as number 32 on the waiting list.
We would just have to show up on the first day of school and sit and wait to see if they by a miracle built classroom and hired two more people by then – yay. By a miracle though (and likely to the hate of all the other parents that were there – who had numbers in line WAY ahead of us – we were actually called first and were given a spot right away – yayayayyayayay! Thank you my beautiful 5th grader – likely there was a hidden “siblings-go-directly-to-start” rule – but I am not complaining! This is the kids on the first day of school sooooooo proud!
3- The High School was a jumble of lines and uncertainties and we had no clue what classes my son would have until he actually started school – and could not get school bus for him until he was actually in school for almost 3 weeks. At that point, he did get a school bus route which was so long that it took more than 2 hours for it to go from school to our house in no air conditioning and 40 degrees celcius. Hot. So we are back to driving. They also get a computer here – every single student – and they have no books. I mean it – it is a BOOKLESS school (and I am crying a little on the inside over this). And there are no lockers. And did I mention he has to wear a uniform? Yeah – its pretty different from Norway – that is for sure!
4. Driving – yes – I spend about 45 minutes every morning and afternoon driving the kids to and from school. Dont get me wrong – I actually love it – we talk a lot and it is so nice to spend time with them. It is just interesting how long it takes. My oldest son is going to start taking the metro though he says – regular buses in other words – he does not want to take the school bus and right now, he ends up being dropped off at school an hour before he starts because I take him when I take the two youngest. They start school at 7:30 am (sick early) and he starts at 8:30 am. I then pick him up at 16:30 (4:30 pm) – which is half an hour after he ends – and we go pick up the two youngest at After School program after that.
5- All in all though – what can I say about school? It is effective and very strict – that is a good summary I guess. All the kids have 8 hours of school per day – that is a LOT compared to Norway! They also learn a lot. My high school boy has SO MUCH HOMEWORK and SO MANY TESTS – but the teachers are also so dedicated and push the kids hard, and my son really needed that. Things were too easy for him in Norway. They are not anymore. Except for the fact that he tested best in his class in English reading – at a college junior level.
My daughter loves her school so much and has so many great friends already – which is also amazing and makes life so much easier. And my kindergardener is learning so much – his letters, numbers – and he can write his name already! And he speaks English all the time. The kids are adapting so nicely to this new life of ours and we absolutely love love love living in Houston!