Yesterday was EV6’s first official day of school.
I don’t just mean the first day of proper “you might learn something there” school. I mean it’s her first day of public or private care outside of our own home. Ever.
It’s quite the belated start to school for her, considering she’ll be heading into Year 1 (the NZ equivalent of Kindergarten) just nine months from now. Many kids have logged four years of being cared for out of the home by this point in their lives.
As with many things here in New Zealand, our perception of pre-Year-1 school from abroad was a little different than the reality here on the ground.
While kiwi kids have a guaranteed Year 1 start date on their fifth birthdays, all care prior to that is optional despite 20hrs of each week being state-sponsored for 3-4yr-olds.
Given the state sponsorship, we were relatively sure getting into a daycare would be relatively easy, and there seemed to be tons of them. That’s compared to Philadelphia, where for many quality pre-schools you need to have your child on a waiting list before they are even born!
The complication arose from just how much school we were interested in Some care centers only offered 20hrs a week of care. Basically, they were set up to capitalize on the state-sponsored benefit, but that was it. That would be great for right this moment, but if I wound up in full-time job prior to EV6’s Year 1 started date we’d be in a pickle. By contrast, outside of the city the full-time child care centers were much smaller than their US equivalents and they all had wait lists – just not quite as long as the ones in Philly.
We sent out notes to the closest full-day schools on my birthday back in September. Two replied in short order – both to offer us a spot on wait lists stacked up into 2018. Eek.
Luckily, for once my resident OCD Godzilla really paid off for us. [Read more…] about first day of school, finally