The Scandal of Danish School

A couple of you have asked about what the girls are doing for school. Most English speaking ex-pats send their children to an International School. There are three of them in CPH, one of which is $15,000 per year, per child. (Obviously not an option — although all of the children at our international church seem to attend thier somehow. I can only imagine their parent’s salaries!) All of the schools were full initially, then we caught a break and got an opening at one of the less expensive schools. We were less that dazzeled after our visit there, and when one of our relocation helpers sang the praises of sending her own children to Danish school, we decided to jump in with both feet. (So scandalous! English speaking ex-pats rarely do this—there seems to be some sort of ‘conventional wisdom’ cultural bias against it.)

In our neighborhood, the schools have Danish Reception Classes for kids who are learning Danish as a Second Language. Unfortunately, one school teaches the older DSL kids, and another takes the younger. This means that the girls have to go to two different schools. On the pro side, Catie seems to be enjoying being on her own without being the “little” sister of a big 4th grader. On the downside, it means Cate’s school is 20 minutes away by car, longer by bus. Thankfully the school district sends a taxi for her to go to and from school. I’m not used to not knowing the teachers/being on campus regularly, as we were well connected at our dear BF Day Elementary. 😦 But Cate digs the taxi and rides with a few other ex pats. Here’s the conversation we had after her very first day

Me:    Hi Catie, how was your first day at school.
Cate:  Good.
Me:    Did you have to ride by yourself in the taxi?
Cate:  No, I rode with my best friend.
Me:    You have a best friend already?
Cate:  Yep.
Me:    What’s her name?
Cate: (looking exasperated) I don’t know her name mom. She doesn’t speak English.

I always forget how unimportant things like names are when you are seven.

Since then Cate talks a lot about someone named “McGeorge.” I’ve asked if maybe his name isn’t just George, but she insists on the Mc. My girlfriend Wendy said, “Umm…is McGeorge real?” Good point. I checked. Nope, not an imaginary friend. A real flesh-and-blood pal who rides the taxi with her. Still not sure about the “Mc” thought.

Cate seems to like school itself, but some of the kids are very harsh. She cries every other day or so because somone has teased her about her pronunciation of Danish, or played keep away with her hat, or said she’s “in love” with McGeorge. Yesterday a girl in the taxi told her she was dumb. Catie kept saying “nej!” but the girl kept saying “jai!” Apparently the kids that know more Danish than she does also try to make her say thing in Danish that are embarrassing. I wrote a note to the teacher today, but thoughts, prayers, and ideas would also be apprecaited. Thankfully, there’s an American family with three kids ages 5-9, and we are having a playdate later this week.

Eden goes to a school we can walk to in 15 minutes. We know we’re on time if the kirke (church) bells start ringing right when we arrive at the park with the frozen pond. It’s so picturesque I can hardly stand it! 🙂 Danish schools aren’t academically demanding. The schedules tend to go something like, an hour of Danish, then two of sports, one of music music, recess, a little math, then it’s off to the public pool for a couple hours of swimming lessons. School sometimes ends at 11:40, and sometimes and 1:40 — it varies from day to day, but it’s never as long as a day as an American school. I’ve been assured by other ex-pats that their grown-up kids have done just fine in college and such after years in the Danish system. I think that’s a big part of the Danish ethos — they are less uptight about things, yet somehow they get just as much, if not more, done in a day than the average over caffeinated American.

After school the kids can go to Fritidshjem (pronounced frit-iz-gym), an afterschool club. For this you pay a fee, but it’s very reasonable. It’s basically a Boys and Girls club where they can do homework and crafts and such in a supervised environment. Eden has started hers and stays until Cate and I pick her up at 3pm. Cate starts hers in April.

We are somewhat concerned that the girls might have to switch schools again when we find a permanent place to live. We are looking for flats in this neighborhood, but have not had much luck. Even at 3,000 (U.S.) a month, we can’t find a 3, or even a 2 bedroom that will allow our dog. Technically, we should only be in temporary housing until the first week of April. One neighborhood in any direction would put us into a different school district, although the schools in Hellerup are new and quite innovative, so perhaps in the long run that might not be so bad. Eden especially does not want to switch schools. Again, your prayers and thoughts are much appreciated.

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3 Responses to The Scandal of Danish School

  1. neil says:

    McGeorge! That’s awesome! Asher has a monkey he calls “Muckey the Dodge” (which of course is “George the monkey” in his dialect of our language).

    Poor sweet Catie! You tell them bullies to leave her hat alone! Seriously, though, I will be praying for your girls. Switching schools would be tough, but maybe Hellerup would be cool…? Maybe you could “sell” it to Eden by finding the coolest thing that appeals to her there and playing it up. You’ve probably thought of that and she’s probably smarter than to fall for that. Ah well, I can only offer prayers.

    i’m glad you enjoy the walk to school, at least!

  2. magpiegirl777 says:

    Oh, the best thing about the Hellerup school is that the first thing you do each day is take your shoes off, put on your slippers, and read in a beanbag for awhile! 🙂 Eden is SOLD on that part!

  3. neil says:

    How very civilized! Europe rocks.

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