A Visit to School

School started with great fanfare at the beginning of September. Pictured here is the opening ceremony that is a Russian tradition of starting the first day of classes with formally introducing the teachers, students, having some poetry reading, and tea and snacks.

To help with the boys’ adjustment to school, the idea come up for me to spend a day there in observation, and everyone agreed it would be great. So on Monday the 17th I did just that. Some of you will be interested in this level of detail on how a day goes in a Russian kindergarten, even though it is not typical, since it’s private and Christian, so that is why I’m writing.

8:15. we have to leave home 45 minutes early, despite the fact that – as the crow flies – we aren’t more than a few minutes away from the school. We walk 20 minutes to the metro, 3 minutes down the escalator, 3 minutes to the next stop, 3 minutes up again (I have all this down by now), and another 15 minutes by foot to the school.

9:00. School starts. There are about 10 kids in the Kindergarten class, a bare room with a few toys and an old area rug to play on. The teacher, Anna Michaelovna (AM), starts the day with a Bible story on a felt board. The boys were reasonably attentive, even though they could only guess at the content.

9:20. the kids drew pictures about the story. AM asks Kerith (she speaks no English) who is in his picuture. He says, “Eesus” (Jesus). We rejoice in small victories here.

9:35. AM has a mini-lesson with the girls while the boys finish coloring.

10:15. Breakfast, which consists of 3 cookies each and tea.

10:40. Girls are now free while AM works with the boys. Kerith returns to class, but he is not invited to the table. Plays by himself, but he comes over at one point to me an sighs. I think he may be getting bored. AM later invites Simon, who refuses. She does not press it. (Note: Although she did not this day, AM does work with Kerith some either one-on-one, or with the other boys on some reading skills.)

11:04. A general class lesson on the oval. All draw and discuss ovals.

11:17. Potty time.

11:20. Get dressed for recess.

11:38. Outdoor play. Simon plays in the sand with a few others. Kerith is with the main group that AM leads, doing games like, Wolf, sort of like tag. Kerith got to be it once, and he seemed to enjoy himself.

12:17. Back in; free time. Kerith leaves the class and pops in the 1st grade for a second. AM must not have seen it, but another kid leaves too and she puts him in the corner.

12:31. Clean up for lunch.

12:40. Lunch. Soup and tea.

1:20. Undress for nap. The kids strip, put on PJ’s, and hop in bed. Only, they don’t have beds yet, so they mostly share one big air mattress. (Note: They now have beds – neat little three-story jobs that look like a dresser with drawers.).

3:55. They awake and go to afternoon snack – a couple of cookies and tea.

From this point the day is over, but they offer to watch kids until 6. We have been getting them by 4, or sometimes just before nap.

AM is patient, and she never raises her voice.
It’s not quite as crazy as it seems; there is a relatively peaceful atmosphere.
She honors the kids’ free will – partly a reaction to Soviet-style dictotorial classroom rule.
AM is very encouraging and mothering.

Things have been getting better over the last couple of weeks in all areas since my visit; they buys are adjusting to the newness of both being in a school for the first time, and the newness of being in an all Russian setting. We decided recently to ask for a tutor to spend more time with Kerith on his language development, and God provided one immediately to work with him during school. She now works with him during nap time, and he loves it (she does too!). So our confidence that God led us there and will work things out has only grown.


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