The first day of school, holding on to your parent's hand to get rid of the anxiety of trying something new. New uniform which is stiff and clean, shoes that are not yet broken in. It's interesting to see that there are some things which are the same for all of us: such as the desire to help our children advance. I've watched many parents and kids come in to register and then this week, actually to start classes. We had the preschool and elementary grades start first. Next week will be the secondary grades. One of the strange things here to me is that children don't always come on the first day. Here in Haiti, up in the hills anyway, children seem to come in stages. Often it's because their families have finally managed to scrape together the needed funds for supplies and tuition. All I know is that every day there are a few more students who've "made it in" and the classes are growing each day.
One thing we've been careful to do is to make sure the parents know how important they are to their child's success. We see it over and over each day. The children came come to the same school, same class and have the same teacher, but if their home life isn't stable and secure, they will have a very hard time making it. The school administration has already had parent meetings for each section. The parents whose children are on scholarships or sponsorships are also told how important their role is. We tell them no one can take over their responsibility to parent their child. Someone may be helping their family out financially, but it is up to them to love, support and impart how necessary education is here.
The other image I loved from the first day was the preschool class meeting under the gazebo and basically having a party! The three to five-year-olds were greeted with decorations, chairs set out for them, snacks, and a lot of games and activities. They were learning a new French song as I walked by and saw the teachers enthusiastically singing and dancing. I'm amazed at their energy level. I hope they can keep it up past this week (smile!)