Tag Archives: school

Kids birthday party in Spain

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Yesterday, Sunday, we had a birthday party of one of Sky’s classmates. The Sunday before we also had a similar party, our first children party in Spain. 3 of Sky’s classmates celebrated their birthday together. Now we have experienced two parties, I can write something about it. Can’t avoid to compare it with what we are used to in the Netherlands (and although I have never been in a kids party in Indonesia myself, I will also tell about it a little, based on what my friends shared through social media’s).

Here in Spain, the whole class is invited. Not only the children, but also the parents, brothers and sisters. So if the whole class would come together with the families, there could be about 100 people in the party! Not that it was the case last Sundays. Not all children could come, and there were 40-60 people in each of both parties. That’s still a big number though! In the Netherlands, it’s normal that the birthday child may invite friends as many as her age to-be, or plus 1 or 2, but no more. For sure not the whole class. And the parents would drop the kids off and pick them up again. Usually the party will be held either at home (with some activites), or somewhere else like a playground, animal farm, zoo, museum, or other organized activites. Mostly are held on Wednesday afternoon because the school ends just before lunch, or otherwise after school on other days when the school ends at 3 p.m. This article describes the Dutch kids party really well, if you would like another read on this subject (it’s actually quite the opposite point of view as what I experienced here, because the author is a Mexican lady living in the Netherlands, and I have just moved from the Netherlands to Spain!).

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Since the school ends quite late here in Spain, the birthdays are normally celebrated in the weekends, usually on Sundays. The first birthday we had was held in a learning centre in the middle of our city. As I said, there were 3 children who had their birthday celebrated together because the dates are close to each other. The children were invited for a robot/programming/science workshop, which they were all beyond enthousiastic about. It’s a close workshop, which means the parents can just drop the children off and leave. But it didn’t happen. Noone left after dropping off. Instead we all went to a cafe nearby and got a cup of coffee. And talked, and socialized…until we could pick up the children again. Then we cut the birthday cakes, sang Happy Birthday and the kids opened their presents.

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There was a bit of commotion about the presents beforehands. A parent didn’t want the child to get too many gifts. An option was to donate or collect some money for the party givers. But finally it was “decided” (not sure how and by whom, it just happened) that noone should give money nor gifts, nothing. The parents of the birthday child will buy the gift themselves (only 1, as far as I can see). The idea behind this is that every child will eventually celebrate his or her birthday this year. So at the end it will come to an equality. The important thing is that everyone will have a good time, enjoy the parties and get to know each other better.

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There are some non-Spanish parents in the class and they just can’t understand this system. Well, I’m one of them of course, but I’d rather say I have some pro’s and con’s regarding this idea. It’s such a social and noble system. I observe such parties to be held also in Indonesia. Where the whole class is invited, often the parents too. With the intention to have a good time together. The difference is about the gifts, there a child would receive a huge pile of gifts from everyone, and often the party has a certain theme, where the decorations and the cakes and the treats will all be in style (if you have the money, of course…).

Another pro point: Because the parents stay at the party, it’s really an opportunity to meet and get along. After two parties I start to recognize some faces, and even be able to link them to their children! Not easy for an introvert like me, but I also managed to have a chit-chat, practice my basic Spanish, and even talk about many different things with some of the parents whom I normally wouldn’t be able to talk with.

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Now the con’s: The same social system can also put pressures on one’s shoulder. Although a mother assured me it’s absolutely okay not to follow this system, there will be for sure a pinch of guilty feeling if you decide, for example, not to invite the whole class. Because your daughter has been invited by everyone, and you don’t do the same!

And it’s well known here in Spain, to put families (in this case the class, or the class’ decision) way above your own sentiments. An example: the parents of the second birthday party actually would like to collect some money, but change their mind when the group decided not to do so. But these parents are “alone”, I mean it’s not a joined birthday party, which means they have to spend a lot of money and organize everything for the party themselves. It was a fun party by the way. We all had a train ride around the park and afterwards the children could play in the big playground while the parents gathered around the picnic table, or played with their kids.

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The social issue and follow-the-majority is not something I can judge. It’s highly cultural and country-related, I believe. Maybe I’ve been living too long in the Netherlands to find that having 100 people at a children party is just not so efficient. And that everyone should be free to choose what he wants and who he would like to invite. Some people think it’s so harsh to exclude some kids by not inviting them to your party. Other would say it’s like the life itself, you won’t always be invited to every occasion. That children should deal with disappointment. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. I never saw Sky being disappointed by not being invited. Maybe it’s in her character, but children are flexible and they can handle things and emotion more than what we’re thinking of.

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On the other hand, based on what I experienced so far, the parties here are way more relaxed and easy going. No excessive food nor gifts. No time limit when the party should end (sometimes even no exact time when to start…not always handy, but okay…). No pressure to talk with someone you don’t really match (although they do love to talk here! But it’s so different than when you have to sit in a circle in the livingroom like the usual Dutch birthday party). And the gifts part…I think it’s such a good idea! One ‘big’ gift only, from the parents. Not 25 ‘small’ ones you barely will use. We still keep Sky’s birthday gifts from last year. From the 5 gifts she received from her friends, 1 hasn’t been used at all, 2 are used only a little bit, 1 is given away (with her permission) and the last one is somewhere in her drawer.

So at the end…. I still don’t know. The pro’s and con’s will stay for a while, I suppose. Meanwhile we will observe and experience more. And for Sky’s birthday; we have told her that she may choose. If she chooses to have a Dutch party style by inviting only some kids she really loves to play with, it’s fine. But if she chooses to join the class and invites everyone, it’s also good (but then I would try to find some b-day partners, I think, haha…). We’ll see!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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adjust, adapt and be positive

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Sky told me last week: “Mama, I think I like my current school better than my old school in the Netherlands.”

That one sentence really means a lot for me. To know that she is really happy and satisfied with her new environment, after only such a short period of time (4 months at school now) and with new languages she didn’t speak yet when she started… Of course I have noticed that she feels good by observing her behaviour. She hops happily from school everytime I pick her up and she tells me a lot about things she’s been doing at school. But to hear it coming out from her mouth, and to see that smile…it means the whole world!

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When I asked her why she likes her current school more, she replied: “Because this school has many fun activities, like art, sport, computer language, music, singing, swimming, online English learning…”
Well yes, I understand. I would love to redo my school time too!

At this very moment they are preparing a piece of theatre, based on the Lion King story. Each class picks a different movie. I believe they have evaluated the story, the roles and characters, and still learning about the costums (which they have to make themselves), the decor, the music and so on. All is done in 3 different languages, each language covers its own topics. Such a stimulating and fun process of learning!

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But I also believe that not only a good school is important when you’re going on a huge adventure like moving country, but also a positive attitude. We try to support each other as much as we can, and show that however it will not always be easy, there’s always things to be grateful for. Look at the bright side of life and enjoy, and you will make yourself easier in the process of adjusting and adapting.

When a stranger talks to me in Spanish and I don’t understand at all, I can still be grateful for the friendliness people seem to have here towards strangers. When we can only borrow very simple children books from the library with minimal or even no text at all, I’m still grateful they have those books in the library and Sky is now focused on the illustration and it makes her try different types of drawing, which is very fun. And when we are often so frustrated with the “relaxed” way people dealing with rules here, it can also works on my benefit, like yesterday. I borrowed some extra books from the library but apparently I would have in total one book too many. The maximum allowed is 15 and I have got 16. But the friendly librarian gave me a big wink and said: “It doesn’t matter, just one book too many. And besides, your daughter loves the books so much, right?” ๐Ÿ™‚

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how our first work/study week went

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So we survived another week…a very important week it was!

Joop has (officially) worked for 2 weeks at his new office, Sky has finished her very first week at her new Spanish/Catalans international school, and I have completed 2 (out of 10) days of basic Catalans course. Oh woww…sounds impressive right?!

The week went well. Of course, all of us have some ups and downs moments, but so far so good. Joop has tried his best only to speak Spanish at work, and he feels he is progressing. More vocabulary learnt and if the context is right he can quite follow the big line of the conversation (I’m trying to be very careful here…because just don’t think we can have a great conversation. Only the basic things so far!) ๐Ÿ˜€

And miraculously I could also quite follow my Catalans lessons, with my very little knowledge of Spanish! The teacher is just great, she speaks very slowly and tries her best to help all of us (no Spanish nationality in the class, almost all come from Latin America). Concerning the Catalans language, I will only follow the 10-days basic course. Simply because my Spanish course will also start next week (2 days a week), and it collides with the next level of Catalans course. Pity!

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And how about Sky… Well, she is fine!!! She liked her first week at school, much to our delight!! If you remember my post a few weeks ago about how much my worry is…none of them turns real, because she comes home everyday full of stories to tell and she really seems to enjoy it all. I asked her if she could understand when the teachers speak in English (one third of the time). She could a bit, and mostly it’s enough. The lessons spoken in Spanish (sport and math) and Catalans (music) luckily contain many universal words. But, she also recognized that she could hardly speak back, even worse if she wanted to explain things. It’s frustrating. We all know that feeling!

The funny thing is about the lunch and the afternoon snack. We know Sky loves food. And it’s also the first thing we discuss everytime I pick her up at school. I can access the monthly menu at the school internal website so I know what she got or will get, but she just loves to explain what she has eaten, and that she always finishes them all… Well that’s at least one less issue for us. ๐Ÿ˜€ She also doesn’t have issues having lunch an hour later than what we do at home. Again, my worry just disappears in the air….

So once again, so far so good. We are getting into our daily rhythm and doing things we are planning to do. Everyone is healthy and happy… and this adventure has started to get its shape.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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first day of school in Spain

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For many Spanish parents it’s a big relieve to walk their children to school again this morning, after 11 weeks (!!!) of summer holiday (compared to 6 weeks in the Netherlands). But for me, it feels so unreal how fast the past weeks gone by. We now live 6 weeks here in Spain, have been busy with so many things and have passed through many milestones in such a short period of time… but today marks a very important milestone in our life: The first day Sky goes to school in our new homeland. First time wearing a school uniform! She is really looking forward into it:

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This month the children are allowed to wear their sport uniforms because the weather is just still too warm for the “official” uniform, which is made of thick material. The ‘problem’ with uniforms is, that you have to put names on all of them, from the backpack to the swimming suit. That’s the advice I got from another mom and also from school. So we ordered a name-sticker which you can iron on the clothes (or sew on the bags). Like this:

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The school starts at 08.50 and will end at 16.35, all the same from Monday till Friday. Again, very different compared to her school in the Netherlands (08.30 – 15.00, and on Wednesday till 12.30). The long hours are compensated by having 2 hours long afternoon break (in NL 1 hour), including having lunch together at the big dining room. Sky is so curious what kind of meal she would get today! Actually I can check the monthly menu on the internal school website, but we have made an agreement that I will only check it when she has gone to school, haha…. (pstt, I have just take a look and all the menu seems delicious!! I think she will like most of them). This is the school dining room:

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Last week we had a parent’s meeting at school, where presentations were given both in general (we had a special English version in a different room) and in the children’s own classroom by the teachers themselves. Children were not allowed to join this meeting, so we had to arrange a sitter for Sky. The first time in her life she stayed at home with a sitter! (talking about milestones….) We’re lucky to find a Dutch sitter, an 18 years old girl who has lived here for about 5 years. Sky was all happy and enthousiast about her! This is a picture during the presentation in the class (which was all in Spanish, with occasionally some English summaries afterwards). As long as I know there are 3 non-Spanish children in the class, out of 23.

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And the last Friday before the school starts was an Open Day. Parents and children are allowed to come in the class and met the teachers. We got explanations and guided tour around the school. Such a good idea, especially for new students and parents like us. At least now Sky knows where the nearest toilet is and where she should go to fill in her water bottle. We also got to see the classes, the library, the dining room, the gym, the playground, the computer room and the music room:

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I have to admit I’m quite nervous today. I try to keep myself busy (like by writing this blog), but still I kept looking at the clock and thinking ‘What is she doing right now? Is she happy, not getting a headache from all the foreign languages spoken and the new children around her?” Oh my, I can’t wait to hear all her stories when I pick her up (or not, maybe she doesn’t feel like sharing them today. All okay). Tomorrow is a Catalonian Public Holiday (Diada Nacional de Catalunya), so happy with that. Then we have one day to take a rest from this impressive ‘first day’.

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worry

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Mothers are made to worry, especially when it comes to their little ones.

I’m worry if Sky would be okay with our big move. If she would like our new house here in Spain, with us busy settling things down and learning the language and everything new around us…

I’m worry, because she will soon enter a new school and learn 3 new languages at once. Three!!! Which means she will be in a new environment, with all new teachers and kids who all speak languages she does not understand yet. We try our best to teach her some English the past half year, but that’s so far from enough. At least, that’s my worry…

And she is such an observant girl. Not shy, like some people might think at first sight. She would not jump into anything before she’s comfortable enough with it. She needs to watch and understand the situation first, and it might take some times. Maybe she would not easily make friends in her new class… At least, that’s my worry…

I was reading her new school schedule and oh what a long day they will make at school. Much longer than the school days in the Netherlands, almost 2 hours longer! Wouldn’t she be too tired? And their lunch start at 13.20!! Oh my, that’s so late! At her previous school the kids would have lunch at 12 (and at home also)! And she’s such an eater, will get cranky when her tummy rumbles. Poor little girl… At least, that’s my worry…

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But then,

She has never complained ever since we’re here. She always has a big smile on her face, and keep telling me what a beautiful house (with a big garden!) and a pretty green surrounding we now have in Spain. She is so sweet and helpful (what have I done to deserve this kid!)

We take her everywhere, from arranging some legal things (city hall, police office, parking office, other offices…) till shopping for the necessary home appliances (internet/tv/phone office, car dealers, electronics, diy-stores, garden and plants, water filter, outdoor furnitures, more diy stuff…) and she enjoys it all. Everything. Each of them is an adventure, and every single one is just as exciting. Whether it’s about finding a delicious dessert in the supermarket or to get our health insurance done at the bank. Whether it’s about wandering around the weekly city market or to register ourself in the city hall.

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blog1And then,

We got our first playdate. With two other mothers with their daughters (in total 5 girls together with Sky, all about the same age and all will go to the same school). We met at the park, and the girls immediately played together like they have known each other for years. The moms had a blast too. But for me it’s so special to see how Sky seemed to be at her ease. How much fun she had although she might not understand all words said (almost all in English). How children can easily play together without having to worry.

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And moms like me…well, we are made to worry. It’s in our nature, I guess. But with all things happening these weeks, to watch and see how Sky smoothly and joyfully enjoying her days…it relieves my worries a bit. The big move still has to happen, when she really goes to school, in 10 days. But I believe we have set a solid base to hop on. Let’s continue from that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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reading like a champ

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Belajar membaca, sebuah proses yang ajaib. Magical. Waktu Sky masuk kelas 3 akhir bulan Agustus tahun lalu, dia baru mulai bisa membaca kata-kata sederhana seperti ‘kipblog8(ayam) dan ‘pan‘ (panci). Itupun dengan susah payah. Sudah hebat untuk anak sekecil itu! Sekarang, 5 bulan kemudian, dia membaca segala yang bisa dibaca. Bis lewat, selebaran iklan, emailku (ups, mulai sekarang laptop harus dikunci kalau aku tinggalkan, hehe), tube pasta gigi (katanya: “nama odol ‘zendium’ itu lebih bagus ya daripada ‘sensodyne'”), nama toko (“kenapa sih toko itu dinamai ‘stom‘ (bodoh)?” sambil menunjuk ke sebuah ‘stomerij‘ (alias dry clean. Penggalan ‘stom‘ itu asalnya dari ‘stoom‘, yang artinya ‘uap panas’).

Persis 2 bulan lalu kami mencapai sebuah milestone istimewa: Kami sudah meminjam 1000 buku dari perpustakaan, dalam waktu 4 tahun! Dari Ibu perpus Sky mendapat hadiah kecil kenang-kenangan, dan beritanya muncul di laman Facebook perpus. 1000 buku sudah kami bacakan untuknya, dan sekarang dia sudah bisa membaca sendiri. Senang sekali mengikuti perjalanannya belajar membaca, dan melihatnya menikmati dunia perbukuan seperti ini. Semoga bisa menjadi bekal berharga sepanjang hidupnya.

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Dan hari ini kami menerima portfolio (raport) mid-semester sekolahnya. Di sini disebut portfolio, karena yang berisi penilaian hanya selembar, sementara sisanya adalah hasil karya lainnya, seperti gambar, prakarya, foto, tulisan, cerita, dll. Di semua kategori penilaian (membaca, mengeja, berhitung dan kosakata) Sky mendapat score ‘A’. Level membacanya saat ini ada di level M5 (pertengahan kelas 5), yang berarti dia lebih cepat 2 tahun dari level yang diharapkan. Sebagai orang tua, yang tersisa hanya rasa syukur dan bangga…ย โ™ฅ

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blog2Het is zo’n wonderlijk iets; leren lezen. Toen ze in groep 3 begon, eind augustus vorig jaar, kon ze nog maar net met moeite woordjes als ‘kip’ en ‘pan’ lezen. Dat was ook al heel wat voor zo’n klein meisje! En nu, 5 maanden later, leest ze alles…maar dan ook alles wat te lezen valt. Een voorbijrijdende bus, reclamefolder, mijn e-mails (oeps, voortaan de laptop vergrendelen als ik niet erachter zit!), tandpasta tubes (“ik vind het woord ‘zendium’ mooier dan ‘sensodyne'”, zei ze), winkelnamen (“wat is er stoms aan die winkel?” Het was een stomerij…).

Precies 2 maanden geleden hebben we een bijzondere mijlpaal bereikt: We hebben het 1000e boek geleend bij de bieb, in 4 jaar tijd! Van een aardige bieb-medewerkster hadden we een kleine attentie gekregen en Sky stond op hun Facebook pagina. 1000 boeken hebben we voor haar gelezen, en nu leest ze al heel veel boeken zelf. Wat een plezier heeft ze daarin, en wat is het leuk om het te zien en deze ontwikkeling mee te maken.

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En vandaag hebben we haar school portfolio meegekregen, met daarin haar mooie werkjes en de toets resultaten. Voor lezen, spelling, rekenen en woordenschat heeft ze een ‘A’. Haar leesniveau staat op M5 (mid groep 5), dat betekent 2 jaar voorsprong, wat het lezen betreft. Wat kun je als ouders nog meer doen dan dankbaar en trots zijn…ย โ™ฅ

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growing power

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Di tengah trotoar dia berhenti, turun dari skuter/otopetnya. Matanya memandangku lekat-lekat: “Mam, tadi di sekolah aku tiba-tiba merasa…bahwa aku kuat, bertenaga. Bahwa aku bisa ikut berlari, bisa meloncat lebih tinggi. Teman-temanku bisa berlari cepat sekali, tapi sekarang aku merasa bahwa aku juga bisa.”

Perasaan yang menyenangkan pasti, seperti yang kukatakan padanya. Seolah ingin membuktikan ucapannya, dia berhasil meraih palang di rumah panjatan di tempat bermain yang tadinya tidak bisa dia capai, biarpun dengan meloncat. Sekarang tiba-tiba bisa dijangkaunya, begitu saja.

Mungkin ini efek kejadian di pagi harinya juga. Pagi itu kami memberitahunya bahwa Ibu guru yakin dia boleh naik ke kelas 3 sesudah libur musim panas nanti (bulan Agustus). Sebetulnya kami (dia juga) sudah tahu sejak interview orang tua-guru bulan Februari lalu, tapi sekarang sudah betul-betul resmi. Dia senang, tapi juga merasa spannend/tegang. Kelas baru, dengan sebagian besar teman-teman baru, di mana dia kemungkinan besar adalah yang paling muda. Tapi minimal sudah ada kepastian, jadi dia bisa mempersiapkan diri, terutama secara mental. Kami orang tuanya juga ikut spannend, hehe… Penasaran sekali bagaimana dia nanti menjalani kelas barunya. Kita tidak bisa mengatur segala-galanya, tapi yang jelas kami berharap sepenuh hati semoga masa sekolahnya berkesan dan penuh kenangan indah. ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: Di Belanda resminya anak yang berumur 6 tahun sebelum atau saat libur musim panas boleh naik ke kelas 3, kalau sudah siap. Siap dalam arti si anak sudah bisa berkonsentrasi dan mengerjakan tugas secara mandiri. Karena di kelas 3 anak mulai belajar membaca, menulis dan berhitung. Terkadang ada pengecualian, kalau anak memang belum siap maka dia boleh duduk setahun lagi di kelas 2. Dan seperti Sky, kalau memang terbukti sudah siap secara fisik dan mental, maka boleh naik kelas walaupun dia baru saja berulang tahun ke-5.

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Midden op de stoep stopte ze, stapte van haar step af. Ze keek mij ernstig aan: “Mam, ik voelde vandaag op school ineens…dat ik kracht heb. Dat ik mee kan rennen. Dat ik hoger kan springen. Mijn vriendinnen kunnen snel rennen maar nu voel ik dat ik dat ook kan.”

Een heerlijk gevoel, lijkt mij, en dat heb ik ook tegen haar gezegd. Alsof zij dat wil bewijzen, hing ze kort daarna aan een rekstok bij de speeltuin waar ze tot voor kort niet kon reiken, ook niet door te springen. Nu wel, zomaar.

Misschien speelt ook een rol dat wij haar die ochtend vertelden dat zij, volgens haar juf, na de zomervakantie zeker naar groep 3 gaat. Dat weten wij (zij ook) eigenlijk sinds het laatste oudergesprek in februari, maar nu is het helemaal officieel. Zij vindt het leuk, maar ook spannend. Een nieuwe klas, met merendeel nieuwe kinderen, waar zij waarschijnlijk de jongste zal zijn. Maar nu er zekerheid is, kan zij zich voorbereiden op wat er komen zal. Wij vinden het ook spannend, super benieuwd hoe ze het straks gaat ervaren.ย Je hebt niet alles in de hand, maar we hopen van harte dat zij hele leuke en leerzame tijd zal beleven op school. ๐Ÿ™‚

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