Back to school: Italy vs USA- The extras

In the 5 years that I have had children in the Italian school system I have become used to the small details that I once thought were funny or strange. Perhaps because it’s Italy, or that it’s still super ‘Old School’ but there are a few little differences that I noticed when Miss V started school at the age of three.


Her Pre-School class has a crucifix. Like a legit Catholic Jesus on a cross. At first I was shocked, then I remembered where I was. Considering that  Italy is home of the Roman Catholic religion and it’s affects on Government holidays, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. This is a country where EVERY TOWN has a Patron Saint and has a day to celebrate that particular saint. June 24th is San Giovanni (St. John) and he is the Patron Saint of Torino, Florence, Genova and many other cities in Italy. On that day, there is no school (pre school only because they get out at the end of June) and government offices are closed as well.

They are also taught Religion beginning in Pre- School. This is optional but the majority of kids participate. I thought this would be kind of confusion for the girls because we attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints (aka Mormon). However, the teacher’s goal is to help reiterate basic values that most religions teach. Integrity, Honesty, Kindness, etc..



After taking a quick poll on Facebook, it seems that when it comes to Nap time in Pre-School, there’s no difference. Maybe it’s just me and not having been around small kids for a long time but for some reason, I was under the impression that Pre-School and Kindergarten kids in the US didn’t take naps anymore.

Part of the required school supply list included a bag with a complete change of clothes, wipes and a towel. Another bag for nap time which includes a pillow, sheet and blanket. We’re also asked to bring a bag of cookies or crackers to share with the class. I’m pretty sure these kids spend more time eating and sleeping than doing anything else. (Totally kidding… they work a lot)

My favorite “extra” stuff that I never had is the smock. In Pre-School, they have to wear a smock. It is absolutely the cutest thing ever and I love them. I am so grateful for them because it has saved so many of their outfits that would have otherwise gotten ruined by paints, markets and/or food!


Perhaps the most absurd, crazy, insane and downright odd thing I NEVER, EVER thought I’d have to do is teach my kid how to use a Turkish toilet, or better known as a SQUAT TOILET. 

Why oh why does anyone think they’re better than traditional toilets? Word on the street is that they’re supposed to be more sanitary but let’s face it, if you’re kid has to pee or poop, chances are there’s gonna be a mess. This madness begins in Elementary schools and you know those teachers aren’t gonna help your little ones. *sigh*

If you have a chance, head over to my Instagram and click on my Life in Italy stories. You’ll see Valentina in action trying to show Elisabetta how exactly you use one of these. 

Do you have kids in the Italian school system? What are some of the strange and unusual things you’ve experienced? Let me know in the comments! 

4 thoughts on “Back to school: Italy vs USA- The extras

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