Year One went by very well for Maggie and her first year in Greek School. Here I must mention that according to the Greek educational system, children attend the 1st class of primary school at the age of six. That is why Maggie was in the 1st class of Greek school while she was in Kindergarten of Swiss school.
Maggie could handle the workload and had a wonderful and experienced Greek teacher. She had even managed to create a very nice friendship with two girls in her class, even though they met just once a week.
However, Saturdays were like weekdays for Maggie:
She had to wake up very early so as to catch the train from Zug to Zurich. She continued to like Greek School.
We would then have to take two short tram rides before eventually reaching a Swiss Public school that is being used by the Greek community of Zurich for these lessons. She still liked it.
The lessons started at 9.00 am and ended at 12.30 pm, with two breaks for snacks and playtime.
After the lessons it was really time for lunch; Maggie was so hungry when it was pick-up time that we would always have lunch in Zurich and then catch the train back to Zug. No complaints.
She was tired and admitted to being so, but was still a fan of Greek School.
In other words, Maggie’s weekends were always short. They included just Sunday and that day was mainly used by her body and brain to recover from the exhausting full week she had had.
We had also found a very pleasant way of doing her Greek homework. She would do it – and still does it – with the great help of my younger sister, Christine, in Greece via Skype. This took a big burden off of her as she would finish her homework effortlessly.
This school year, however, is a different story.
Last year started catching up on Maggie …and along with it, all the exhaustion, too.
She is in the 2nd Class, year-wise but still in the 1st Class, book-wise. It is not possible to complete the curricula of a full school year only through Saturday lessons. Of course, this was never an issue for us. What is important and we have discussed this with Maggie as well, is to maintain and learn the Greek language as best she can. No deadlines, no pressure.
The homework at Greek school became much more. At the same time, Swiss school required homework on behalf of Maggie this year, too.
The problem was not only the quantity but also the quality of the homework in each school. Maggie realized this difference early enough to start expressing dissatisfaction with Greek School. The Swiss educational system, in some ways reminding us of the Canadian educational system does not involve heavy copying of letters, words and phrases. It does not involve learning off by heart. It does not involve doing light work at school and the heavy work at home. It is actually the opposite.
So two factors alone led Maggie to start crying before the first lesson of Greek School right after Christmas. Exhaustion from the whole Greek School excursion and Disagreement with the learning techniques. And she was absolutely right. We had to listen to her.
The Christmas holidays were almost over. Maggie had already successfully completed her homework for the upcoming lesson; again with the invaluable help and accompaniment of her dear aunt Christine. She loved her Greek School teacher and she loved her two friends there. She even got a surprise every Saturday for all her efforts and achievement. She was an excellent student at Greek School. And she was proud of that …but she started crying. A lot! Just two days before we started again.
We had to find a solution for her. One that she agreed with, that she was happy with, that would allow her to maintain this beautiful language she had already acquired.
And we tried out a private Greek School, again in Zurich. So far, that is the closest available city with such provisions. But this School has lessons for just one and a half hours every Saturday and the homework is much more interesting and lighter. We do not have to wake up so early either. Maggie can enjoy her Saturday morning sleep that is so important and go to Greek school after lunch … Just for a while this time. Additionally, the format of the lesson and the homework are more like that of her German and English lessons which she so much enjoys.
English Lessons? Feat No 5 will fill you in on that!
Maggie loves her new Greek School so much now that she not only goes – and leaves – happily but she also does extra Greek activity books that we have a whole shelf of here at home. With her own initiative! With great pleasure!
She now enjoys her longer weekend and we are happy to see her do so while still learning the Greek language. She is actually learning more this way.
Maggie’s sigh of relief was a sigh of relief for us as well. And at the same time, another deep breath, as this new private school involves extra monthly financing on our family’s behalf. We have explained this, too, to Maggie and she voluntarily asked to give up her Saturday surprises. Just for proposing that … we maintained her Saturday surprises.
2015 addition to this blog post: Please feel free to read Feat No 15 on how we have now set up our very own Greek Language Workshops here is Zug, for our own children and anyone else interested!