Starting School in Another Country

Posted on September 2, 2015 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

These are the weeks that everyone posts their pictures of their kids starting school, and all the moms either talk about how they held back their tears, or had a party to celebrate, or both.  As excited as I am for my kids to get back to school, because I know how much they enjoy it, I’ve just never gotten super into it.

However, this year is a little different than in the past because we are now living in a different country.  As I mentioned in my last post my kids were dealing with a fair amount of stress because of the move, but just as I predicted, going back to school has already had a very good impact.

She makes the weirdest smiles when we have her pose.

She makes the weirdest smiles when we have her pose.

Crash Niece #1 is attending the school on base, which means for all intents and purposes it is just an American school.  There are some differences, but for the most part it is the same.  The big new thing for her is that she has a male teacher for the first time and I think it was a little intimidating at first.  Fortunately, he seems to be a great teacher that has already set her at ease by telling jokes and referring to himself as the “bald fat man.”  I look forward to watching her really grow as he has said he likes to push his kids, and that is exactly what I want.

I am generally anti-uniform, but man he is a cute little guy.

I am generally anti-uniform, but man he is a cute little guy.

Crash Nephew, on the other hand, is now attending a Japanese pre-school with mostly Japanese kids.  His teacher does speak English, but at our request she will not be using it often with him.  This is one of those rare opportunities to really immerse him in a different culture and allow him to grow in ways that you simply could not do in America.  To be honest I was more nervous than him the first couple of days because he has a tendency to just get super shy when he is in a new situation that he is uncertain about (I wonder where he gets that from?).

Fortunately, he is braver than his Dad and already seems to be comfortable in his new environment.  When Crash Aunt went to pick him up after the first day he said, “Mom, they all speak Spanish (not sure why he gets the two confused.  Maybe too much Diego?), but don’t worry Mom, I speak it too.”  Just to be clear he does not speak Japanese, but I was so proud of him for not being afraid and realizing that he can still be one of them.  It will be so fun to watch him actually learn Japanese this year.

No matter how old a kid is, or where they go to school, it is such an amazing time of their life.  As I think back on my school years elementary school was where I had the most fun, and where I really feel like I became the person that I am today.  I didn’t necessarily learn the most or anything like that, but I had some incredibly influential teachers that changed me forever.

Crash Dad and I shared one of those teachers by the name of Mrs. Woodson for fifth grade at Ellis Elementary in Arlington, Texas.  I recently came across her again on Facebook and was touched to see how many of her students were quick to credit her with many of the successes in their lives.  I know she is in my top five most influential teachers in my life and I am forever indebted to her for that.

So as we send our kids back to school this week and celebrate the freedom it affords us as parents, don’t forget the teachers whose work is just beginning this year and remember to give them the support they need and deserve.  You never know when your kid may have the teacher that will alter their life forever.