Posted by: dsduffy | February 10, 2010

Calling it “prep” isn’t the only difference

The “preppies” are eased into their first month of school: the first day was only 2 hours, the second day was a half day, and for the month of Feb they do not attend school on Wednesdays to give them a “rest day.”  In the mornings, the preppies don’t line up outside like the rest of the kids, they are brought into their class by a parent, and also at the end of the day the Level 1 kids are  held in the classroom until their parent arrives. There is a designated play area just for Level 1 kids, but just for the first Term.

They wear uniforms. They have to wear their hats anytime they are outside (that Aussie sun, she’s strong!)

Every day I pack a regular lunch and a “play lunch” (I am pretty sure this just means “snack”) which can only consist of fruit or veg.

I haven’t been bombarded with forms to complete and packets of information to read through. We did receive a folder with a few papers back in December at the Parent Orientation, but not the amount I expected.

The students call their teachers by their first names. And without a “Miss” or “Mr” in front. This is not an Australian thing, it apparently is just something they do at this particular school. I was talking with a mom of an older child and she said it is supposed to make the kids feel more comfortable with the teachers.

They assign the preppies a buddy. “A buddy is a student from Grade 5 that will look after the new Level 1 student and help them settle into their new environment. They meet their buddy the first week of school and then meet regularly every 2 weeks. They will participate in a range of activities throughout the year.” (from the orientation folder) I think this is a great idea. Already Cameron has passed by older boys that have said “Hi Cameron!” in only a week and a half. I’m pretty sure it makes them feel good having the bigger kids be so friendly to them.

There are fees. The fees cover everything from school supplies and the school nurse, to excursions and the year book. At first I was annoyed that I had to pay for public school, but then realized it is cheaper than the alternative, which is private school with a price tag of at least $14,000 per year. So I will happily pay the yearly $700 fee at public school. But I will miss shopping for #2 pencils and helping Cameron choose which folders he likes best at the “back-to-school” sale I loved so much when I was a kid.

All in all, school is going well. Even though I have no clue what he does all day, Cameron seems happy to go every morning. Next week is Parent/Teacher interviews so I will hopefully get more info then.



  1. I’m all for the all-inclusive school fees. $700 may seem like a lot but I’m sure that in North America, families end up shelling out a lot more than that. Also, it takes away the disparity between rich and less fortunate kids in terms of their supplies. Everybody is the same.

    When I lived in Oz, both places I rented were right by schools. I loved watching the kids go up and down the street, looking so precious in their uniforms. In my second apartment, I could even hear music classes, Abba songs on the flutes included!

    -mc, Canada…. regular reader, rare commenter… 🙂

  2. Glad to hear that school is going well & that Cameron looks forward to going every day. Interesting that you will be have Parent/Teacher interviews already next week after just two weeks. How does the teacher know the children and their capabilities so soon? Can’t wait to hear the teacher’s comments! Love to all!

  3. Maybe it’s better that you don’t have an American kindergarten experience to compare it to. (Cameron is your oldest, right?)
    It’s been pretty hard for me dealing with just how different the education system is here. It always makes me feel better when I hear similar experiences from other expats. Then I can say to myself, “It’s not just me, it’s not just our school.”
    Even though it has been difficult for me, my daughter loves her Aussie school. I hope your son does, too.

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