We are here to learn

Donna Sorsa

Term 1 is done!  What is Term 1 you ask?

Well here in New Zealand our school year is split into 4 terms. Each term is between 10-11 weeks long and has a 2 week break before the next; other than the exception of our summer holiday, which comes at the end of Term 4 and that’s for 6 weeks!

With the end of Term 1 comes the start of Autumn and its cooler temperatures and darker evenings.  This transition of seasons is tough and I am envious that the summer is now travelling to your side of the world.  Be kind to her and send her back soon!

So with Term 1 ending it is a good chance to reflect on what the last 11 weeks has brought for my children at school.  All their academic achievements, sporting activities and friendships.  It is also time to enjoy the last of the warmer hours in the day and a break for myself from playing taxi driver to two children and filling the school lunchboxes! (we do not have school lunches provided in schools in NZ)

In New Zealand our education system is broken down into 4 categories;

  1. Early Childhood – for children aged 3-5
  2. Primary School – for children aged 5-12
  3. Secondary School – for children aged 12-17
  4. University / Further Education– secondary school leavers and on wards

There are many childcare facilities to cater for the children in the under 3 age bracket.

Early Childhood education has many different setups; Parent Led, Kindergarten, Montessori, Steiner just to name a few.  My children have gone through the Montessori Early Childhood system and although we fell into this opportunity by chance it fit with our family values and how my children enjoy learning.  However, we have chosen to send our children to a non-Montessori school from 5 years old.

Primary and Secondary schools follow a national curriculum with a focus on Literacy and Numeracy.  In the Secondary curriculum this focus broadens and allows some specialization options to become available in the last 3 years.

There are two types of schools, State and Private.  These schools maybe co-ed, single sex, boarding/live in, uniform wearing, non-uniform wearing, rural, city, religious and cultural.
All schools have activities that include, sports, drama, music, arts, science and social science.
There are also opportunities to gain scholarships which allow students to attend some of the elite schools across New Zealand.
Lastly home or distance learning is also recognized here in New Zealand.

We have 5 main Universities in New Zealand each internationally recognized for their own opportunities. Auckland ,Massey and Victoria are in the North Island and Canterbury and Otago in the South Island.  There are also many other Further Educational institutes that are well established in New Zealand offering other diplomas, certificates and qualifications in Trades and Technologies.
Unfortunately, our government only part funds these opportunities, however New Zealand students are able to borrow in the form of a student loan.

My education opportunities were solid.   I grew up in Marlborough with a mother as a school teacher.
We had little choice in Secondary Schools, so I spent my college years at a girl’s only school.  I excelled in sports and unfortunately academics took a back seat.  Luckily I had the smarts to come away with a solid education and respectful grades. However; my focus was on winning championships in many sports codes.
I chose not to attend University or to further my education but instead traveled the world for 4 years, returning to New Zealand in my early 20’s to start building my career in the Information Technology Industry.
I am currently transitioning back into the workforce after 7 years of being a stay at home mother.  This time is exciting yet scary, taking time to realize that I am capable of doing it all.

On that note, I am off to do a load of laundry, break up a disagreement between 2 children and complete a Communication’s Proposal due tomorrow.

‘There are opportunities everywhere you just need to take the time to find the ones that are right for you.’

(Photo of a School in Wellington NZ)

Donna Sorsa

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