Thursday, July 04, 2019

How to make kids attend on the last day of term

For the seven years the kids were at primary school, getting them in on the last day of term was never an issue, though it did seem fairly pointless. They'd watch a Disney movie or play a board game, then return home early, cheering loudly as they left the building. The biggies attended a high school with over 1200 kids. As soon as they started there, it became clear that attending on the last day of term was not the cool thing to do, by any stretch of the imagination. Already by the last week you needed thumb screws to get them out of bed as they claimed they were doing nothing of any use and instead of the usual huge traffic jam up Waterfoot road, there would be fewer than 20 cars on the hill. The last day often took a serious amount of blackmail. I made them go in, much to their disgust, and they would be corralled into a class with the other four or five kids from their 250+ year with parents as evil as me, once again to watch the first 50 minutes of a movie in each class before the bell rang! I never fully worked out whether the teachers and council would prefer us just to throw in the towel and give up altogether, or persevere. I was also often amazed that if I did manage to get them in (as one of about 10% of the kids who showed up), the school office would phone angrily if they dared to leave just twenty minutes before the end of the day, even if it was during the lunch break. All in all, the last day of the high school term was a complete washout and best forgotten.

Last week was the last day of the summer term here. I fully expected at least Léon's school class to have no interest in attending but I was very wrong. The last few days of term were spent intently beavering away on some communal secret plans. It turned out they were coming up with a menu - last time I saw it, it listed bacon, chicken bacon, hamburgers, pancakes, digestives, fruit juice, freshly-baked rolls, jam, grapes, watermelon, chocolate milk, eggs, etc and a list of activities. They turned up at 8am as usual - the entire class(!), each with an item or two from the list and spent the entire morning having a banquet with their main class. At lunchtime, they weren't hungry any more so the kids and their teachers walked over to the outdoor swimming pool (5 minutes from school), with the swimming costumes they'd agreed to bring along and spent the afternoon in the pool, finally drying off, lying in the park listening to music on a large speaker one of the kids had borrowed from his older brother. Finally around 2pm, the summer holidays were ready to begin.

Now Léon can't wait for the last day of every term in Danish school - he's already imagining Gløgg, Xmas cakes and cookies in December.

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