Here in Ireland, children can stay at home when thay are babies or they can go to play school quite young. Normally, they start regular school when they are four in junior infants. When they are five they go into senior infants. When they are six they are put into first class and on it goes until they are tewlve and finish primary school in sixth class.
Next, when they are twelve they move into secondary school (first year, second year, third year) and after the first three years there, they take their junior certificate exam. At a lot of schools, they now have a choice of going on for another two years, at the end of which they take their leaving certificate exam, or they have what is called a 'transitional year'.
The transitional year is a year that the students 'take it easy'. Of course they continue in their regular studies but they have the oppertunity to participate in 'extra' activities. It all depents on the school. Some schools offer horse riding, golf, sailing and such like to the students. Some travel and all encourage the children to get a few weeks work experience, in whatever field that particular child wants to work in as an adult, an office, factory, hotel, hospital etc.
Well, Niall and I have decided to give Sean a 'transitional year' at the end of his primary school years, when he is twelve, before he goes on to secondary school.
We feel that this move will help him and be good for him in so many ways. We won't be 'holding him back', but rather, we hope to be arming him, strenghtning him and preparing him for a much easier transformation into the 'school' system.
The plan, Lord willing, is that I will buy a new set of sixth class books and go over them in the first six months or so of his transitionall year. That way, we will be going over sixth class work but not the exact same books he had done the year before.
For the second half of his transitional year we will also buy his school books for the first year in secondary school and go over these and give him an idea and prepare him for what is ahead of him.
It won't be a lot of hard work and grind, but rather, like the transitional year when children are fifteen/sixteen, we will be concentrating on the arts, music and travel. We are very blessed becaues we live between Belfast City (in Northern Ireland) and Dublin City (in Southern Ireland.) Each City is only 50 miles away from us, and this means that we regurally get to visit these citys and what they offer. However we do hope to be able to travel around Ireland more and visit musumes and places of historic intrests that we can't normally reach.
We are planning to travel with him. I plan to take him to London for a few days in the December of that year. We could visit the usual places of intrese, London Bridge, Covent Gardens, Madam Taussaud, the theatre etc, but the place I most want him to see is 'The Metropolotan Tabernacle' in Elephant & Castle. This is a huge Baptis Church where Peter Masters is pastor and where CH Spurgeon once pastored. I want Sean to see that God has different sizes of Churches/families around the world and that they are not all the same as our own Church.
Niall is making plans to take him to Holland for a few days. We have a friend called Rob who lives there. He is a streen Evangelist and lives a remarkably full and very interesting life for the Lord. Again, there are lots of places of intrest that Niall could take him to in that country.
As a family we are thinking along the lines of taking Sean to Albania... The Baptist Missions have a family over there and we would love to renew our contact with them and hopefully stay with them for a few days. Not only would I like Sean to exsperience life for Christians in a poor country, but I would too.
Well, we can lay out the best of plans, but unless the Lord is with us they won't happen! However, we have a few pound put away for Sean'e education and we also have two years to save up for these trips so hopefully they will go ahead.
Mostly though, when Sean will be thirteen and in first year, he will be one of the eldest in his class, be a bit bigger, (he's a bit of a light weight at present!) better fit for sports, for his academic work, his character will be stronger but mostly, he will be able to stand against the worldliness he will have full exposure to, stand and Lord willing hold fast.