Last night was parent’s night for Noah’s class. I sat next to an English-speaker who whispered translation to me when I didn’t understand what was going on. We sat in a circle on the tiny class chairs and played a game – when a ball was thrown to you, you were supposed to say your name, who your child was & something about your child. When I caught the ball, my translator offered to speak for me, but I wanted to try, so I said, “Ani Sarah. Haben sheli Noach. Anachnu garim b’newyork, aval anachnu po hashana hazeh [I’m Sarah. My son is Noah. We live in New York, but are here for the year].” Then I quickly threw the ball to someone else! Pretty good, though, huh?

There are some interesting differences between kindergarten here & in the states. Tuition is much cheaper here, but it buys different things. Class is 5 1/2 days week: Sun-Thurs 7-4 (not that we ever get there before 8 ) and Fri 7-1. Breakfast, lunch & 2 snacks are included. So, for less money we get more hours of care + food (kosher, vegetarian). The curriculum is focused on preparing the children for kitah aleph (1st grade) and Noah’s teacher, Yaffa, stresses ecology & nature and love of Israel. She encourages the children to bring in photos of their travels so they can share them with the class and find the places on the map of Israel hanging on the wall.

On the other hand, other costs are extra. So, at the parent’s meeting, we had to vote on what chugim (kind of like electives) we wanted the children to get. Parents have to pay an extra fee to pay the specialty teachers because they are not part of the regular staff of the school. After a heated, knesset-like discussion, we decided that the class will have music, sports, and mathematics one afternoon/week each. If trips are scheduled, we have to contribute to pay for the school bus, etc.

We got 2 invitations for play dates from parents who want their children to learn English. Not sure that will help Noah’s Hebrew, but its nice to be invited for whatever reason.