Getting REAL in Israel – Our Son Enters Kita Aleph (First Grade)

It has been an intense beginning to this new second year.   My son started first grade a few weeks ago and I have to admit – I was probably more nervous than he was.  We made aliya last year – while he was still in gan chova (the equivalent to kindergarten or pre-1A in North America) hoping that he would learn Hebrew and be able to adjust to our new home in a pleasant and fun environment.  It was pleasant and fun, but he did not learn as much Hebrew as we hoped he would.

So as my husband put it: “We really threw him into the fire this time around.”  Yep.  That is exactly how it feels.  At least he knew many of the children in his class.  But it is all Hebrew…all day…a lot of sitting…and all boys…little Israeli boys.  (He likes the all boys part.)

Our household was definetely more stressful this new beginning time around compared to last year.

Will he make good friends?  Will anyone pick on him in school?  Will his teachers be nice to him?  What if he hates it?  Will he enjoy the learning? Will he understand everything that is going on?

It has been a challenge to adjust to my son’s new hours at school and working out how he will be getting to and from school every day.  (The “school bus”  is really a local city bus without any supervision and A LOT of pushing and shoving and monkeying around.  My husband takes the bus to school with my son every morning – male bonding timeand he gets a ride home from school every day from our amazing neighbors.  Thank you!)

Should we get a car?  We can’t really afford a car just yet.  We chose to buy a house instead.  The house was a good move.  But it is so draining to always have to rely on people.  Get over it  – everyone is happy to help out.

On top of all of my son’s new adjustments  – we had a lot of adjusting to do as well.  We all have to wake up much earlier than we had to when they were all in pre-school.  My son has to be out of the house by 7:20 a.m.  I now have to walk my daughter to her gan with our baby (whom I usually like to carry in a pouch – although lately the stroller has been a better option.)  Plus, instead of now only having to make only two sandwiches – one for each child –  for their midday snack (all Israeli school-age children have a sandwich and a fruit at 10 a.m.) – we now have to add a lunch in to the mix.

Here is what some of the opinions are about lunches for school kids:

‘You have to make your son  a hot lunch for lunchtime.  That is what all Israeli’s do.’

‘No, I don’t do that, I just give him another sandwich.’

‘Lunch is whatever was served for dinner the night before.’ Do they like it?  I’m not sure.  The other day I took three uneaten sandwiches out of my daughter’s backpack.’

‘My kids hate the lunch I give them.  What do you make for your kids?’

Me?  Oh, I am still trying to figure that out.

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