We’re back with a very much overdue school post! Welcome back to part 6 of my Back to School series where I share our experiences with the Italian school system and do a small comparison between Italy and the US, specifically Texas.
This year, we’ve begun our new adventures in Scuola Media (Middle School). As with all schools, parents have the right to choose which school they would like their child to attend. You fill out a form online with the Minister of Education and submit your request. Just like in Elementary School, you are ranked based on a point system. A point if you live in the same neighborhood as the school. A point if you already have another child in the same school or affiliate. A point if a parent works near the school and so on. Once the points are tallied up, then spots are filled based on the highest ranking to the lowest. As spots are filled, the students that didn’t get in have to go to their back up school. Of course there are exceptions and those are worked out between parents and the school administrators.
During this process, you can also choose what schedule you want them to do. Regular hours are 30 hours a week and that means they leave school around 1:30/2:00pm and eat lunch at home. Tempo prolungato (extended hours) means they would have lunch at school and they leave early twice a week and stay until 4:00pm 3 days a week. We opted for 30 hours so that Valentina would have more time to study.
This year, we decided not to keep Valentina in the same Comprensivo (group of schools run by one administrator). While it would have been the most convenient since the girls’ school is literally across the street from our house, it was time for a change. After 8 years total with a few of the same kids, it was time to move on. We chose a Middle School 15 minutes away (walking distance) knowing that she wouldn’t be alone. In fact, 5 other kids from her class are in the same school, 2 of which are in her class. Because of this, every day she carpools to and from school which is a big lifesaver.
Our first impression was a good one and Valentina was nervous as most kids are. However when that first day of school arrived, she was so happy with her math professor and the kids in her class. We knew we made the right decision. By the second day of school, the kids had already created a Whatsapp group chat and organized a lunch at the pizzeria across the street!
Middle School in Italy is not at all like it is back in Texas. Like Elementary school, she will have the same classmates and will be in the same classroom for the next 3 years. There are no lockers or changing classes for each subject. It’s the teachers who rotate and go from room to room. Oops.. sorry.. Professors. No longer are they called Maestro/Maestra.. they’re Prof! (Professore, Professoressa) One thing that I found interesting is that when the Prof. enters the room, students MUST STAND. It’s a sign of respect.
Perhaps the biggest shock for us was the sticker price for books. I have been preparing myself for this moment for a few year now. In Texas, schools provide text books to the students for the year and they are then turned back in. They are property of the school. In Italy, you purchase your middle school books and you could then sell them to other kids, to a second hand bookshop or keep them. You’d be surprised how may parents would just toss them in the garbage after a while.
She has 13 subjects and each subject has multiple books:
Art & Immages
Physical Education and Sport Sciences
PRICE SHOCK: 295,40€
That’s just for books. It does not include the 1euro for each book that needs to be covered. That doesn’t even include the school supplies. Nor is that for the other 2 girls.
In total, at the beginning of the school year for all 3 girls, we spent 533,55€. I am NOT looking forward to that price increasing once Rosie finishes Elementary School.
Valentina’s biggest shock was the amount of homework she has every night. At the beginning she was just keeping up and doing what was required for the next day. However, she has an Italian prof. that assigns a lot of reading which they have to summarize. The majority of her time is spent doing that and she can easily be in her room until 10pm still doing homework. Luckily, she’s begun to learn how to manage her time and even has video chats with her friends where they do homework together.
We’ve seen a big change in her attitude towards school. She still doesn’t like P.E., but we no longer have to drag her out of bed to get her to school. 😁
As mentioned above, this is part 6 of an ongoing ‘Back to School’ series that I started to compare school in the U.S. and in Italy. If you’d like to read the previous posts, click below: