I was very glad to have made it to my youngest's parents' evening last night. Not that I could have missed it; he had been reminding me since the day before. He's got his head screwed on right, that one. No idea where he gets it from!
I left him at home with his brother to zap on the Nintendo and stuff pizza while I sat at his desk and listened to his teacher outline the year ahead, especially regarding reading, maths (of course!) and homework. She's quite something, sa maîtresse. There are some fabulous teachers about, and I believe she counts among them. She's been teaching for twenty years now, and is as motivated and enthusiastic as ever. I don't think she was one of those who couldn't think what to do after university so drifted into teaching! Oh no, she's got the vocation!
As I looked around the class at the other mostly mummies, I noted that there was one of probably Vietnamese extraction, and one black mummy, and me, of course, the Brit foreigner. There were two parents who hadn't turned up out of a class of 25. We are obviously a keen bunch. Some parents furiously took notes, and this is perhaps why they have got on in life, and I just push paper and look after the boys...
Actually, I did come away from there plunged in gloom, again. The teacher let us know she likes to involve parents, and would any of us care to come in and talk about our profession to the kids as they often have only a vague idea as to what their parents do. This of course brought home yet again my status of not being anything in particular. I mean, I can hardly go in and talk about pushing paper about, can I? I can't talk either about being a writer without feeling like a fraud as you can't really be one without having published some thing, and a book in progress and a letter to The Times don't really count...
I did ask a sensible question, however, which was what they do in étude. I'm a firm believer in étude because it gets all the homework out of the way, leaving them to come home and relax. I wanted to check that my youngest would be benefitting from his 45 mins after school and that I wouldn't have to sit him down at home as well. I understood that étude was perhaps not enough, in which case why bother. So I put the question to my youngest and asked if he wouldn't prefer to work with mummy at home rather than stay on at school. Amazingly, he said he wanted to go to étude. He's full of surprises, that one. I will, however, check that all is well on a regular basis, and that he knows his poetry every Monday.
A lot of time was spent telling us how the kids are taught to read. This is a major issue at the moment in l'éducation Française and new guidelines have been issued on the horrors of la méthode globale in favour of syllables and breaking up words into their component sounds. She actually uses a little bit of the global method to show the children where they are heading, which I totally approve of, as it helps motivate them - through a story, for example. We were advised on how to help our children, and what not to do, which was brilliant for those stroppy parents who think they know best. They were definitely put in their place and told that ignoring the consigns could be severely detrimental to their children's ability to assimilate what they were learning at school. Apparently it can be confusing and they switch off. There are also children who purposely hold back until their parents buy them what want, with the attitude "Tu veux que je lise, tu vas voir... hehe"
I finally crawled home at 8pm to find the boys still zapping, having scoffed their pizza. They'd had a lovely time!