My Blog List

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Riding Solo To School



Seeing a child traveling alone in the morning to school, doesn’t seem out of place here in Berlin, particularly during the school year.  It’s the norm.  It’s not uncommon to see a child as young six, riding alone on Berlin’s public transit. Some travel with an older sibling (brother or sister), but many more don’t. 

This morning, on the way to school, Christopher expressed his desire to travel alone to school.  I said yes, that would be possible, but once he’s a little older.  “I can do it daddy!” he proudly said.   I smiled and said, “Yes, I know you can.”

Before we allow our little boy to travel alone to school, he first needs to remember to bring home his lunchbox, water bottle and jacket, and not misplace any of his school supplies.   More importantly, demonstrate to us he’s capable of safely crossing the street, while carefully observing and obeying crosswalk signs EVERY TIME.  That’s the short list of prerequisites, besides reaching a level of maturity one expects a child to have before travelling alone in a big city like Berlin.

I realize some parents simply can’t take their kids to school every day.  Some may not need to because the school is just around the corner. Other parents put their kids on a school bus, or in a taxi.  In the case of older kids, it’s not necessary. Can you see me accompanying my child to school at age 16 or 17?   But sending my son to school, via public transit every day, at such a young age, all alone, is unthinkable.  There are so many “what ifs” scenarios that come to mind, I couldn’t possibly list them all here.  

My wife and I spoke about this very topic the other evening.  Perhaps at the age of ten, we might allow him to go alone, at least part of the way to school, but certainly not the entire route by himself.  

But at the moment, he’s not going anywhere alone, expect to the trash can, mailbox or recycle bins, and by bike of course.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Learning Curve



With the first week of school now behind us, here’s a short list of things that need a bit of fine tuning:

--I must learn how to better utilize Berlin’s super efficient, multifaceted mass transit system, and fast.   Learning how to manipulate the system to my advantage is akin to figuring out how to work the Income Tax System  in America.  It’s complicated at first.   But once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you save time (and money).  Note to self: Pay better attention to each bus route and timetable.  Sometimes, the quickest way may involve using various modes of transportation, bus and S-Bahan combination, and might involve changing more than once.

--We’ve been pampered; okay, spoiled rotten, for far too long.  At our last school, kids weren’t taught how to think by themselves.  None of them ever had to remember what books to bring to class, for example.   Everything stayed at school.  Not anymore.  Now, remembering what to bring to school/class is each child’s sole responsibility.  Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks!

--Teachers aren’t always available at the drop of a hat.  Long gone are the days of arriving at school, walking right into the classroom and speaking with the teacher.  Now, one must pre announce themselves, or schedule a meeting.  Showing up unannounced is frowned upon.  On a good note, however, every teacher’s Email address is listed on the school’s website.  Communicating with your child’s teacher is just a mouse click away. 

Thanks for stopping by.