Lest I confuse anyone, “Kindergarten” in Russian really means “preschool”, where you go from age 2-5, not the first year of real school.

So today was the first day, and I must say it was great. I’ve been assigned to the youngest group, the two- and three-year-olds. They are so cute and sweet. There are some drawbacks to this age group, such as somewhat tenuous potty training and difficulty putting on one’s own clothes, but that I can handle.

There are four teachers for twenty or so children; two Russians and two English speakers (myself and a woman from northern England). The kids are all Russian. Though we try to conduct the day in English, a lot gets done in Russian. I will learn a lot of Russian if I take this job for the long term. Plus I will learn all the songs and poems that Russian children learn, which will help with my cultural assimilation.

Here’s how the day works:

9:00 Kids arrive, take off snowsuits

9:30 Wash hands, breakfast

10:00 Morning circle

10:30 Split up into small groups for music, art, reading, nature, etc.

12:00 Wash hands, snack, pee

12:30 Put on snowsuits

12:45 Go outside

1:00 Take off snowsuits

1:15 Foot massage, wash hands, lunch

1:30 Pee, put on snowsuits/pajamas (some kids go home after lunch, others stay later and they have a nap after lunch)

2:00 Go home/nap

As you can see there is a lot of washing of hands and changing of clothes.

It’s interesting how children in this age group can vary so greatly in their abilities. Some of the kids are very articulate and they jabber away and even understand English quite well. Others don’t really talk at all. There’s one little boy, who’s very sweet, but seems to be in his own world (though he does follow directions pretty well, so he’s not autistic or anything) and when he said “Da” today, all of the teachers got very excited because he rarely says anything. Though I heard him mumbling to himself at the end of the day. Maybe he’s like Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time, the boy genius who won’t speak to anyone outside his family.

If the rest of my trial period is anything like today, I’ll be taking this job. But for the rest of the month I’m juggling both Kindergarten and my other teaching lessons. Tomorrow I have four lessons in three different locations. Six and a half hours of teaching, three hours in transit, plus I spent two hours preparing those lessons today. I like it though, a lot more than sitting in an office. Who knew?