Slovenian primary school
Our children are already past primary school age. Larsen is 21 and is in the second year of college and Lexi of 15 has almost completed the first year of high school. The school system differs somewhat from the Dutch system and I think it is better here. In any case, I prefer that my children grew up here, both for themselves as well as for us as parents.
It already starts with the fact that mothers have 12 months of maternity leave after the birth of their child. In my opinion no more than normal. When I gave birth to Larsen we still lived in the Netherlands and, luckily, I had no work at the time. No way that I would have, at 3 months old, taken him to a nanny to go to work!
In Slovenia there is childcare for children from the age of 1 year, so from the moment the mother starts working again. The care for children from 1 to 3 years old is called »Jaslice«. From the age of 3, they go to the »Vrtec«. This is a kind of nursery where the children can be cared for from 5.30 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. This is because it is normal here that both parents work full-time and often also in 2 shifts. The children receive food and drink at the daycare. In the morning around 9 am a kind of breakfast, around 13 o’clock a hot meal and in the afternoon a snack in the form of fruit or a sandwich. There is also always tea available for drinking. Parents pay a small fee for this because the rest is subsidized. It is possible for parents who are struggling financially to get these meals completely subsidized.
At the age of 6, the children go to primary school where they stay until the age of 15. That means 9 grades. In the first grade, playful learning takes place, as in our Dutch group 1 and 2, the former kindergarten. Reading and writing starts in the second grade. From the beginning, the children receive homework. First just once or twice a week in the form of a drawing or something, but soon that becomes more. Until the fifth or sixth grade, they have 1 teacher and their own, fixed classroom. After that, subjects are added every year that are being given by different teachers and in different classrooms for different subjects, so like in the Netherlands when the kids go to »highschool«, just in the same building. I really liked this because I found the experience of going to another, much larger school at the age of 12 quite intense. What do you know when you are 12 years old? Especially also, at that young age, having to choose a direction of what you want to do later …… When the children here go to »high school« and having to make a choice of what direction they want to study, they are 15 years old and that makes a huge difference.
What I really like is that the children here make much more school trips or outings. They go out much more than the children in the Netherlands. Sports days, cultural days or, for example, technical days are organized several times a year. In winter, for example, there is always a sports day where children can choose whether to go skiing or sledding. They also regularly visit a museum or castle, but they also regularly grind walks in the area. In addition, they go on a school trip once every 2 years for a week. And they start early on. Lexi was not even 7 years old when she first went on a 4-day school trip. That was quite difficult for me! The aim is mainly to stimulate the independence of the children. In Slovenia, there are special »youth hostels« everywhere for school children going on school trips. Such an inn has several bedrooms with bunk beds and its own kitchen and dining room. Outside there is always a playground and football field or something. Such a week consists of all kinds of outings in the area, sports and games, making assignments, and doing educational projects. The teachers who come along put photos on the school website every evening so that the parents can see their children. In such a week there is no call from the parents or children, except of course when there is something wrong.
Other typical things at school here: children are required to wear slippers that they bring from home every day. Upon entering the school, they have to take off their shoes and leave them in the wardrobe. They also all have a large school bag (backpack) with all the books and notebooks they need that day and which they take home every day because of the homework. Those bags are indeed a big minus because they are often very heavy. It is not normal that these children have to carry this and of course very bad for their backs.
The schools start very early here, often as early as 7:00 or 7.30. Larsen and Lexi always had to get up at half-past five. However, they were usually home at half-past two, two o’clock. The primary school is in Žužemberk, 6 kilometers away from us. In the morning, therefore, small buses drive around that pick up all the children from the surrounding villages and bring them to school and back in the afternoon. The »bigger« villages have a dependence where they can go to until the fifth grade. Then they also take a bus to the school in Žužemberk.
At the end of group nine, the children celebrate the end of their primary school days with a »Valeta«, a kind of »mini-ball« where they all dance in beautiful outfits and in pairs, a number of dances that they have practiced for for months. A nice party for all children and parents /grandparents :)!