Monday, September 17, 2012
The minefield that is starting school in Portugal
Today our oldest daughter starts her first year at Primary school here in Portugal and what a journey it has been, a quite stressful journey too.
Here in Portugal, children start school in the calendar year they turn six, so as our daughter's birthday is in January, she is one of the oldest or latest to start. School is obviously mandatory from this age but it is up to the parents to register their child and to be aware of these rules.
One of the things which bugs me about living in Portugal is the lack of information and the difficulty in obtaining needed information, such as about schooling. We knew via friends who have children already in school that we had to go to the central school in the area to register our daughter and that it had to be done by a certain date. That was fine. Then in late July, they put up a list in the same school, telling you where your child has got a place, thats fine.
From then the fun starts, trying to know what you need, when it starts, what needs to be paid for and how and when. After several trips back and forth to the school over the past few weeks we have pretty much got it sorted, we think!!
First comes the question of when they start, we are told they will start in the week between 10th and 14th and that is all. What books do we need, here in portugal, you buy the school books and supplies etc every year. After several weeks and asking, we are told there is a list up at the school, so back we go again. Still no date on starting though, but we are told we will be informed next week (ie the week before school starts!)
So now we have the books, but no starting date, now, what else is needed? so off we go to the shopping centre where all the relevant shops are full of textbooks, folders, pens, bags and everything you need. We stand there looking at the multitude of items, trying to figure out what is needed. How many workbooks, does she need pens, pencils AND crayons, should she have A4 or A5 books? I feel like im in a nightmare! So once again we trek up to school to ask and are told that the local council will be providing the first years with the 'kit' they need, so that problem solved and money saved!! Bonus.
So now we just need to know when we start and how to get all the information about timings, dates, lunches etc. In the previous years, parents would receive a phone call inviting them to a meeting, usually two days before the meeting is held and the weekday before school actually starts!! But this year, they put it on the school website, the meeting is on the Friday, before they start the school today. This is only announced the Monday beforehand. How working people can sort their life, I have no idea with this lack and lateness of information.
So we go off to the meeting, where we are told about the school hours, where to get her school 'kit' and how to pay for lunches. So then we rush off to pick up these things needed for the following Monday, stand in queues only to be told we dont need to worry about it until the end of the month and this is not the right place to be anyway!!
So it has been a bit of stressful couple of weeks, trying to get everything sorted and finding all the details, but here we are on the First day of school!! Thank you to my wonderful husband, who without him, I would have been very lost in this situation.