Wat Opot blogged about the kids 1st day ofschool; which turned out to be the typical Not First Day of School. Leading up to that day took a bit of work! The woman who used to do our books and take care of buying supplies including getting the kids ready for school no longer works for us, so it was up to me to get them ready.
Now I’m an old hand at getting kids ready for school, you know being a former Professional Nanny and all. Been there done that, right? WRONG! If I had to ever update my resume again, I would have to add that endeavor as a special skill set.
Let’s see, First grade needs 2 notebooks, plastic covers for said notebooks, 2 pencils, one eraser and one sharpener. No problem, got it. Second grade needs 3 notebooks, covers, 2 pens, 1 pencil (sharpner, eraser), still there, no problem. Third grade bumps it up to 4 notebooks and similar accessories. Forth grade 5 notebooks and same stuff as the lower grades, but add a ruler and red pen. Fifth and Sixth grade, same same but different and MORE. Oh and I forgot uniforms, shirts for all, pants/shorts for boys and skirts for girls plus backpacks for all.
In 2 days, I had handed out approximately 113 notebooks, over 200 pens and pencils and misc. supplies, made sure each child had a pencil case and backpack to their liking. Oh and yeah, shoes too! The universe was kind to me this year, though. Throughout the year we receive school supply donations such as backpacks and such. I have been stockpiling them in our storage room (out of the site of the kids and staff). As the older kids helped me organize the supplies, I found out that the only thing I lacked was boys flip flops.
Once the Primary School kids had everything organized in their backpacks, I kept them in the office until the first day of school.
When that day arrived, the sun was just peaking over the horizon and as I walked out of my room, I was greeted by the youngsters who were ready to get this day started!
I made it from my room to the office building in record time as I was pulled and pushed along the way. While in India, I spent time at Sri Ram Ashram Children’s Home and received some important advice from an old hand there. Make a Line! Yes, life is much easier since the kids have been required to form lines. Lines into the playroom, lines into the craft room, lines to get snack, etc.
All I have to do is say loudly “get in line” and a cluster of anxious pushing children turns into a pretty good line. Stating “Toot to Tom” transforms (in the midst of groans) the line into the smallest children first. With this ingrained in my mind (and theirs), I stood in the doorway and looked upon the mass of shoving and pushing children with a quizzical look on my face and Nak To yelled, “Get in a line – Toot to Tom”. Oh, they know me so well!
They grabbed their books and took off running for their dorm!
Once there, they ripped open their packs and started putting on their new uniforms with the help of our irreplaceable boys caretaker, Mr. Paul.
Then it was off to eat breakfast but more importantly, to go through their goodies and write their names inside their notebooks. The first graders didn’t know how to write their names in Khmer, only English! Oops! So the older boys stepped in.
Then it was off to School, with Somnang taking Sovanrith on his bike and the others walking the short distance on foot.
Again, this was the unofficial first day of school, as the kids didn’t even get to the end of the country road before they were informed that the teachers weren’t there. Taking it in stride, they ran back and we changed into their play clothes. It was kind of like a trial run, or a ‘first day of school drill’.
Now school has kind of started, but the kids come home at random times. We are told that after the Pchum Ben Holiday, which is from the 14th – 16th, school will officially start. The past week and forthcoming one are to get acquainted with your class, teacher and school. Not sure they needed a full 2 weeks to do this, but what can you do, but go with the flow and hope for the best!