Joey and Sammy's last day of school was on Friday.
Here in Finland, it is customary to celebrate the end of school with a short program on the Saturday after the last day of school. After the show, the kids return to their classrooms to say goodbye to teachers and friends and to receive report cards and special awards.
My pictures don't really capture the day because I had NO IDEA what was going on. We always seemed to be one step behind whatever was happening!
For some reason, I thought that parents would not be welcome in the classroom during this time. (I am a parent of kids in Chicago Public Schools after all.) I asked Sam's teacher for "special permission" to take photos in Sam's class, but we completely missed whatever happened in Joey's class. It was only later that I discovered ALL of the parents return to the classrooms to say thank you and goodbye to teachers and take photos.
Sam received his progress report (younger children don't receive report cards--no letter grades or percentages, just a description of how they are progressing) and a compact box containing some of his best work from the "year." Ms. Meghan, an American from Louisiana, has been with Sam's class for two years.
Ms. Banda, Joey's teacher, has been with this class for the past three years. She is moving on to a new school next year. The idea of "looping" with children (moving from year to year with the same kids) can be great--unless if you have a really bad teacher, or if you don't really get along with him/her. Ms. Banda was very loved (sooo bummed I don't have a photo of her)!
What struck me right away was how calm and unrushed everything was. There was time for proper goodbyes. There was time for reading letters from and to teachers. There was time for thank yous and for special awards (one boy in Joey's class received 50 Euros for his hard work during the school year!) It was quiet, calm and very, very nice.
Many Finnish families will soon leave for their summer cottages. Both boys were extremely sad that this was probably the last time they would see many of these children. But not before we have one final celebration with Joey's new friends...