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September 6, 2012


       Yes, it's that time again! Summer is over (as far as fun and vacation is concerned only, cause we still have summer temperatures) and the school fever is here. I am ready!!!!

       My children can't wait to go back to school mainly to see their friends again (it's not the homework they miss, I assure you). We grew taller in the summer, we got tanned, we did some clothes shopping, we got new trendy haircuts, we have a lot to show and tell our friends!

       Well Mr. 6th grade and Miss 4th grade helped along in cleaning up their rooms and made them 'school' ready. Cleaned the desk area of toys and stuff and tidied drawers, etc, etc. We checked to see if we have any left over school supplies since especially my daughter loves to draw and write and was doing it all summer. I wrote some things on the list and now I'll wait for school to start to go shopping for school supplies because teachers tend to ask for specific kinds of notebooks or files or other stuff and I don't want to be going back and forth to the store.

But, let me tell you a little about Greek schools.

       In Greece, schools start in the second week of September (on the 11th this year and it's on a Tuesday!) and end in the second week of June. The students have summer vacation (3 months), Christmas vacation (2 weeks) and Easter vacation (2 weeks). Furthermore, students take usually another four days off in order to celebrate their two national holidays (28/10 and 25/3).

       A normal school-day starts at 8.15 and finishes at 2.00pm. There is the "all day schooling program" as well, available at every school for working parents where kids can be dropped off at school at 7am and be picked up at 4.15pm the latest. (I think it is a great idea to try to accommodate parents who either don't have anybody to look after the kids while at work or can't afford a babysitter). At the 'all day school' the kids have lunch (brought from home), do homework and extra curricular activities.  

       I must add, that unlike in the USA, students do not eat lunch at school but when they go home at 2.00pm. They usually take along with them snacks (a sandwich, a piece of cake, etc) that they eat during breaks (they have about 10 minute breaks between classes during which they go out in the school yard). There's also a canteen available at schools that sells bottled water, juices, cheese pies, biscuits, etc.

All public schooling (including books) is free of charge. In Greece, all children from 6 to 15 years old must attend school.

The Greek education system is mainly divided into 5 levels: 
  • 1 year Kindergarten (nipiagogia) for ages 5-6, 
  • 6 grades of primary or elementary (dimotiko) ages 6-12,
  • 3 grades of lower secondary (gymnasio) variously translated as Middle or Junior High School ages  12-15.
  • 3 grades of secondary education (Lykeio) an academically-oriented High School ages 15-18
  • higher education - Universities

Basic subjects (for Elementary):
  • Modern Greek Language
  • Modern Greek Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Environmental Studies
  • Physical Education
  • Music
  • Art
  • Computer Studies
  • Theatrical Studies
  • Flexible Zone
  • English
Additional Subjects:
  • Physics  (for years 5 and 6)
  • Geography (for years 5 and 6)
  • History (for years 3-6)
  • Religion (for years 3-6)
  • Social & Political Studies (for years 5 and 6)
  • Second Foreign Language (for years 5 and 6)

How different are your schools from the Greek ones?

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  1. The timing is similar to the school district we live in. We started Tuesday (well, Kindergarten started Wednesday) and we end June 6th. They have off a few days for teacher stuff here and there, Dec 24 - Jan 1 off for "winter break", March 25-29 off for Spring break (most likely somewhere around Easter).

    1. Your breaks are shorter and your days off are fewer. I didn't mention in the post all the other days Greek kids don't have to go to school. Really it makes it difficult for working parents on those days.

  2. I'm sorry, I'm sure the rest of your post was great, but I'm stuck on your kids "can't wait to go back to school" and "helped along in the cleaning up of their rooms". I just need to know, is there a store where I can buy a few kids of that type, cause I sure didn't get any the natural way!

  3. Funny! The way you say things! Well, after 3 months of vacation, of course they would be anxious to go back to school and see their friends, the truth is they do get bored after a while. About the helping part...Since they were VERY little I 'trained' them to 'help Mommy'. At first it was a game and then it became a chore. I made them realize (now) that they have responsibilities as well, not just the right to have a good time. I must admit, of course, that there is a lot of '...because I said so!'...

  4. What an interesting post. I homeschool my kids so we take time off when we go away, or are sick but we try and do a little bit of "school" every day. Since mine are so young this is only about 1-2 hours a day.

    1. Homeschooling is something that is not happening in Greece. I don't think it's allowed! I bet it takes a lot of self-discipline to do it!

  5. Our schools are similar age-wise, but have much shorter breaks. When I lived in Michigan, we had 4 or 5 snow days built into the school year,, but in Utah, we've never had a snow day. Up in the mountains, the weather is crazy...(I've never understood the thinking behind that)..

    Another difference is the lack of arts in the American schools. Music, Theatre, Art, Dance...they all get cut when budgets get low. PE even gets cut to make time for "core subjects". It's a sad state of affairs at this moment...

    I love the idea of lengthened school-watch hours for working parents.

    Happy :Back to School" to your children..AND YOU!

  6. Thank you, Michele! Looking forward to the new school year and what it will bring!

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    1. Oops I did it again! Nothing against you really, just this d#*&@#n cell phone! But I read it! I agree with you I like the peaceful morning time at home but miss them too, when they're at school wondering how their day is going! Oh! and I hate homework! Hadn't I had enough of my own?!