Today we had a meeting with Zander's teacher, the director (french for principal) and a translator to discuss how he is doing and whether or not he should go to this special school to help him learn. I'm going to back up a bit to talk about the whole school thing. Everyone (french) said the best thing to do would be to put them into the local school and they would just absorb it naturally. This is what others had done in the past and, as a matter of fact, there is NO other option than this for Callie or Griffin as they are so young. Zander, however, had the option of another school where they teach french to strangers (that's what they call foreigners) - like we would have an english as a second language class. This is where we had wanted to enroll him from the beginning - but we received alot of pushback from the people here. We decided we would have to wait and see what was up when we arrived. We also knew he needed to be in the grade only one above Callie (as he would be in the US) and this was receiving lots of pushback as well. Well, when we got here we found out that the special class is in Planoise which is over an hour away (by bus) and also that you can't even get in if you are not specifically recommended to be there by your 'home' school - this is to encourage people to stay in their neighborhood schools. They wanted him to try being at the local school and then go from there. This made me very nervous, it basically meant to me that they wouldn't consider it unless he was already failing here - a bad set up for Mr. Z. We did win out on which class he was in, since once I went to meet with the teacher and spoke to her for five minutes, we agreed he needed to be with the younger children. So he started out rocky but has now made a few really good friends and seems very happy to be at school - he was actually really disappointed to hear that he would have off for two weeks. That's right folks, in France they have school for 7 weeks, and then they're off for 2. At the meeting, we discussed the possibility of the special school but decided there were two good reasons not to try it at this point. The first is that it would be way too expensive to schlep him back and forth each day - I can't do it b/c I have no car and I have 2 other kids. We are talking 58 Euros each day for a taxi (they might be able to subsidize this a bit - but even if they did half it would still be prohibitive). But, the second, more important reason, is that it would be too traumatic for Zander - he really loves school, he loves his friends and he is sincerely trying his best to do all the work that he can. He doesn't seem frustrated and is not giving up. All the children in the class love him and try to help him as much as they can. He participates in activities and games - and even won a game earlier that day. It is clear that his teacher already loves him. She is wonderful and assured us the extra work for her is no problem - it's her job. I teared up as I thanked her for her concern and help. Her response 'If Zander is happy, I am happy'. Now this is how teachers should be - what is wrong with Griffin's teacher??? (OK, OK - I know Zander doesn't poop all over the place, but still , where is the love?) Anyway, it went really well all around, although I have to say, as an aside, that the translator was just horrifically bad. The teacher would talk for 5 minutes telling some anecdote or something and then the translator would say - Zander is good. More than once even I knew she was translating wrong (which means it was really bad) and André corrected her or jumped in to translate himself lots. I am so glad I have him to help me in these situations although he is frustrated he is missing so much work in these first few weeks either meeting with teachers, doctors or the government.
So for now, Zander will stay where he is and our tutor (sous tiens) and his teacher will start working together.