Special Guest Thursday: First Day of School {Russian Step by Step Children}

In some places school already started,  in others it is the middle of the term or the school is about to start.
Today I would like to share insights on First Day of School by my special guest – Anna from Russian Step by Step Children.

Anna has shared more insights on the subject over at Kid World Citizen,  so please stop by and check them out!

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Anna Watt is originally from Russia and majored in Education and Linguistics there.  She lived in France where she received her Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication.  Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian.  Anna loves education, languages and technology, so she is always involved in all three.  Anna has always been involved in supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wide.   As a mother of young girls her recent project is books and a blog Russian Step By Step Children geared towards kids living outside a Russian-speaking country. You can follow Anna on Facebook , Twitter , Goggle+, LinkedIn and Pinterest

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A while ago I came across a fun article on the blog of Transparent Language about a great first day of school tradition in Germany and their sugar cones [Zuckertüte ]. It was different from what we have in Russia, but still a definite celebration. As I met many people from different countries around the world I was surprised to find out that first, the tradition to celebrate the first day of school is not part of the norm in a lot of countries, and second, when and how the first day of school goes in different countries is different and interesting.

So I decided to share with you the information on the celebrations of the first day of school in some countries. The information I gathered was mostly from my friends but also from the students from the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

While some are rather informative, other are not, and depending on the age of the writer might be more outdated, but I found them fun to read and watch, hope you will too!

I will have a longer more detailed series of articles about the first of school celebration in Russia on my website Russian Step By Step Children.

Russia

Anna, Russian Step by Step Children

The school year always starts on the first of September. Always. Even if it’s a week-end. It is also sometimes called The Day of Knowledge. The school year ends either end of May or sometimes in June (if you are in a grade that requires graduation exams, they all happen in June).

The celebration takes place outside in the school courtyard. My very first day of school everyone still had to wear uniforms (brown dress with white apron for girls and blue pants and jacket for boys), later on, just nice celebratory outfits. Girls, especially with long hair, used to wear quite elaborate hairdos with lots of large ribbons made into huge bows.

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Our school housed 1st through 11th grade (all in one building). Each grade was divided into several groups (A, B, C, etc.). Each group will have a lead teacher. In the elementary school that is the teacher who teaches most of your classes. In higher grades it can be a teacher of any subject but he/she will be your group’s supervisor. Every group has exactly the same schedule: so you go to all the classes with your group and most of the time you stay with the same group from the first to the 11th grade. There might be exceptions when your group (usually about 30 people) is divided in half for some classes, such as foreign language. Otherwise you are always together.

On September 1st you are lined up with your group, usually the 1 graders are in front. You have your group teacher there with you and you always bring a bouquet of flowers for her/him. Everyone lines up in the school courtyard and there are some speeches given at the front steps of the school by the principle and sometimes some other teachers.

Then the first bell is rung. It is done by a first grader who is sitting on the shoulders of a student from the graduating class (usually a boy). The first grader has a metal bell that she (in my memory – always a girl) rings while being carried around along the front row of all the students lined up around the courtyard.

Usually all the students are coming with their parents. But the first graders can be accompanied by their expended family: grandparents, siblings, etc.

After the celebration is over the kids go to their classes but usually not much is done. General information about the curriculum, introductions of the class and other light activities are all that is done that day. The school lasts only for about a couple of hours, when everyone heads home.

It is a very big celebration and I was always looking forward to the day, the flowers, music, the feeling of comradery and seeing my school friends again after a long summer break. It was a fun day and a great way to start a school year.

Kuwait

Mohammad, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school year in Kuwait starts in mid-September and goes until June.
There is no special first day of school celebration, but there is preparation for that day in every family. First of all we have to buy new uniforms and when we get to school on that day we are excited to meet our friends. We start school at the age of 6 (or if you were born before April that year you can start at 5) and girls and boys go to separate schools, except for the International schools. Like in the US we have elementary (5 years), middle (4 years) and high school (3 years). Each takes place at a separate building that can be located at different places. Most classes will have 30-40 students. Everyone wears uniforms and for boys it is a white shirt and dark silver pants.
Republic of Congo

Marina, Learn French Like a Native 

The school year starts in October and end in mid-June. School starts at the age of 6 and is compulsory until 16 (six years of primary and seven years of secondary school).

There is a tradition in all public schools. All students from K-12 grade clean their classroom on the first day of school. A team of about 5-6 students is put together to clean the classroom throughout the year. The students choose which day of the week works best for them.

I was really ecstatic to go back to school, since we usually had a 3 months break—rightfully called “les Grandes Vacances” French for the Greatest Vacations.

The first day of school or should I say the first week of school was a no brainer. On the first day of school, the students were asked to write on a piece of paper, their name, dad name’s and job, mom name’s and job, their address and finally their age or date of birth. This information varied slightly per the teacher; like in middle school where students have an average of 10 different teachers, in different subject.

Then each teacher dictated or wrote on the blackboard a list of tools, notebook (number of pages) and the book needed for the subject they taught.

Finally, by the beginning of the afternoon, each teacher, started class by revising what was taught in the prior grade—which usually extended to the end of the week

South Korea

Shawn, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school starts in March and ends in November. The long holiday takes place during the winter months. There is no celebration for the first day of school but a lot of great traditions for the end of the year. Normally the parents will bring the children to the elementary school and help them find their classes. The first day is usually awkward as you do not know anyone yet.

Here is a short interview with Shawn:

Iran

Saman

First day of school starts on first day of fall in Iran, but usually first graders’ first day is one day earlier than other students. The reason for this is that the principal, teachers and other staff spend more time with first graders to welcome them to school, to give them time to adjust to these changes and also explain to them the concept of school. On this day students get lined up based on the class they belong to, in school’s playground and listen to principal’s speech. After the speech, and the greeting celebration they follow their teachers to the class.

In the class, usually the teacher starts with introducing herself and then asks each student to introduce herself. (I have to mention that in Iran, schools are separate from elementary to high school for girl and boys). Usually first day for first graders is not a whole day. Usually is just couple of hours to get to know the school and their teacher.

During the celebration, before and after principal’s speech, there are some entertainment programs, like music about education and school. What I can recall from that day is, exactly the day after my first day of school was holiday. So when school was over, I was so happy that tomorrow would be holiday and I didn’t need to go to school, even though I was so excited to go to school. I remember I was singing “fitile Farda tatile”, which means “Hooray tomorrow is holiday”.

Last day of school in Iran is between the last two weeks of spring.

France

Marie, Teacher of French and Spanish at a high school in Remo, NV.

School starts early September, ends early July. First day or week of school? Nothing AT ALL. Everything is very low key, “discreet”. We do not like the “obnoxiousness”, loudness. At the same time, we do not have any school sport team. We do not do anything to create a “family” feeling among students and teachers. It does not feel like a community at all, compared to the US. I like the idea of getting up in the morning and going to work with a “community” where people actually care about you. However, I can never get used to the cheering and sport craze of the assembly, the popularity of such and such. I remember being excited to get to see all my friends again, since I did not see a lot of them outside school during summer break.
One memory as a student, starting 1st grade in a new city at a new school. I had jumped a year so I was 1 year younger than any other kid. I was at the end of the line of students before entering the room. 2 boys were in front of me. One of them turned around and called his friend, pointing at me. He said, laughing: “Hey! Look how small she is!”. I was traumatized! I still remember it, 32 years later, as if it were yesterday. I am still the smallest person in the room! I got over it

Diana, Translator, lives in Anger, France

It is true that there is nothing going on the first day of school but the children are happy to see their classmates and catch up.
At the end of the previous school year each teacher gave a list of supplies that are needed for the next school year and parents and kids buy those supplies, backpacks and new clothes for the school year. The books are usually provided by the school but in a lot of cases there are no books, but just pages that the teacher gives to the students to work on.  It is extremely low key. On a normal school day you bring the child to the gate of the school and they go inside by themselves, on the first day of school parents are usually allowed to enter the gate and get the student to their teacher, but that is it.

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Thank you,  Anna! I enjoyed reading this post and it brought back a lot of memories from my childhood!

When is the first day of school in hour country and how do you celebrate it?

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