Tag Archives: school

Back to School

William MY1 (7th grade) ~ Daniel PY4 (4th grade)

As of about two weeks ago, William and Daniel are back to school!

They’re starting their fourth school year in Norway (the first was only a half of a year, but you get what I mean…). We continue to be thankful for the education they are receiving at the international baccalaureate (IB) school in our city.

We get a lot of questions about the boys’ school here. While I cannot speak for others, our family’s experience with IB school has been great. The way they teach is less about sitting at a desk & looking at a book, and more about learning hands-on. I feel our boys are getting a well-rounded education and experience. The IB approach is a whole-learning focus, seeking to create lifelong learners who are inquisitive, thoughtful, involved, and engaged. Its focus does not isolate academic subjects, but uses units of study that incorporate a variety of subjects and concepts at the same time.

The boys love their school experience, and that makes us happy! They have good relationships with the teachers and staff. The classes are fairly small (in primary school there are typically 15 – 20 students). And I think another benefit is the multi-cultural aspect of international schools. A lot of their friends have at least one Norwegian parent, and the majority have one foreign/non-Norwegian/expat/immigrant parent. So they have classmates who come from all over the world. And their teachers are very international as well!

Daniel is now in fourth grade, or PY4. The PY (Primary Years) program covers grades 1 through 6. Daniel is excited that he is now in the upper grades part of the PY program. This means more responsibility and more self-sufficiency. This is a big change and challenge for him, but also a great opportunity!

William is in his first year of the MY (Middle Years) program, MY1. In American school it would be 7th grade. He is still in the same building as before, but on a different floor. He is changing classes, has a lot more responsibility, and must do much more without teacher guidance. This is the first year of foreign language, and he chose Spanish. He laughed yesterday as he said that he’s basically working on three language right now: English, Norwegian, and Spanish.

So we’re geared up and ready for a new school year.

Here’s a look at the boys’ first day of school each year since arriving in Norway…

February 2013
Daniel PY1 ~ William PY4

 

August 2013
Daniel PY2 ~ William PY5
August 2014
William PY6 ~ Daniel PY3
August 2015
William MY1 ~ Daniel PY4

 

Daniel at work

The chime sounded on my phone a couple of days ago. As I checked it, I discovered a text from one of Daniel’s teachers. No message, just a photo.

How happy it made me to see him working so diligently during Norwegian class!
For those who have recently asked, our boys attend an International Baccalaureate School. The majority of the teaching is in English, but they have about 5 hours of Norwegian class each week.

Back to School

My primary goal for my sons is not that they live a comfortable, safe, easy life. No, I want them to be challenged and stretched, I want them to experience things and grow from those experience.But at the same time, I do want them to be happy. With all of the changes and adjustments they’ve dealt with in their short lives, a certain sense of comfort isn’t a bad thing.

And when I see them comfortable and happy, it is an encouragement for this momma’s heart!

That is what I saw last Thursday morning, as they returned to their school for a third year (this will be their second full year). They are in a familiar environment, where they are known and cared for. They enjoy school, and they have teachers who challenge them and help them reach their potential. They aren’t seen as a number, and they are encouraged to develop at a pace that suits each of them, without going too easy on them.

As I’ve said before, I’ve learned that when my kids are thriving in this expat life, it makes everything easier.

First day of school after arriving in Norway
Daniel: Grade 1, William: Grade 4

 

First day of school 2013
Daniel: Grade 2, William: Grade 5

 

First day of school 2014
Daniel: Grade 3, William: Grade 6

 

The boys’ school

Another great topic suggestion from a long-time blog follower…

They take the bus to school most
mornings. They walk to the main
bus terminal in our city and take one of
the city buses that is designated for the
school each morning.

You mentioned that schools in Norway are excellent. Why are they excellent? What do they do differently?  

Before moving, I read a lot about schools in Norway. And everything I researched told me that the system is great. Very forward-thinking and quick to meet every students’ needs. Of course, most of what I read was about the national school system. But as plans unfolded, we ended up placing our boys in an IB (International Baccalaureate)¬†School.
February 2013
And I cannot imagine a better environment for them! Their school is very much hands-on. They aren’t taught concepts simply through rote memory, but are presented with units of study that are then explored through various methods that allow the students to learn practically and not just theoretically. There is emphasis on cooperative learning, helping students to work together and to develop positive interpersonal skills in addition to academics.
June 2013
They are taught in units/themes. Each unit lasts about 4 – 6 weeks. Through each unit, they may have the chance to work on reading, writing, research, projects, history, science, applied math, etc. Some of the units they’ve studied this year:

DANIEL: You Are What You Eat; Tell Me a Story; Money, Money, Money; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
WILLIAM: Heroes, Space Explorers, Force and Motion, Peace and Conflict

August 2013

They don’t sit at desks and read from textbooks. They typically sit in groups around tables, working with various mediums and materials that make the lessons more realistic and make the concepts stick. They use experiments, field trips, presentations and creative projects to expand and apply knowledge.

Most of the teaching is in English.¬†They have around 5 hours of Norwegian class each week, but it’s basically teaching the same things from the current unit, but in Norwegian.¬†So they’re building vocabulary around things they’re already learning about.

The school is culturally and racially diverse, very international. Many of the students come from international families, having one Norwegian parent, and one parent from another country.

I know I struggle getting services for my kids.  Is that process any simpler in Norway?
Our experience has been educators that are proactive in assessing needs and providing the necessary assistance. We don’t know if this is the norm, of if we are just extremely fortunate to have a fantastic support system at the school. We have one child who struggles with some learning challenges. The specialist at our school went above and beyond to get him¬†the¬†testing and support he needed.

And do the kids notice a difference in the way they are taught or how the day is structured?

Their school day is from 8:45 – 3:05. It is longer than a school day in the national schools, but similar to what they’ve experienced in other countries. They have more opportunities to be up and not just sitting all day. They get two recesses each day, plus PE once a week. They also have opportunities for Norwegian, computer, music, and art. They really love their school!
Daniel participates in a class song at assembly
Student-led spring conferences (2013)
World Peace Day activities