Saturday, September 8, 2007

Natalia's 1st Day of School

Monday was also Natalia's first day at her new kindergarten. Her speech therapist had recommended trying an all-English environment; we're very lucky that we procured the last spot at a wonderful British school. (Even luckier, given that our speech therapist and her diplomat husband were unfairly and unexpectedly expelled from Russia in July...) Natalia was so excited for school to start! She loved the bouquet we brought her teacher, too. (All Russian kids bring their teachers flowers on the first day of school--and Natalia didn't want to be left out. Katya had given her teachers beautiful bouquets like this one, too).

There will be eight children in Natalia's class and they're quite an international bunch of little English speakers. As is common in expat families, a few of the children speak multiple languages at home since their parents are from different countries. I haven't met all of the other families yet (not everyone is back from holidays), but so far I know that the kids have Austrian, Australian, American, English, Hungarian, Korean and Russian backgrounds.

Every day they work on fine motor skills, handwriting, pre-math, and literacy--and a wide variety of creative activities. I'm very impressed by the teacher; she is extremely organized and her lesson plans are so well thought-out. Natalia will be reading this year! She is quite proud! Natalia also loves the independence that her teacher strives to encourage in all the children. They have a uniform of a school t-shirt so that no one ever need worry about the consequences of stray paint and self-poured snacks.

We're looking forward to the outings already on the calendar--field trips, a celebration of the anniversary of the school's founding, a holiday party. The other parents that I know are very nice and it's fun to hang out with them. I had already met many of the other moms through the International Women's Club toddler playgroup we attended our first year in Moscow.

Talia is also looking forward to the "clubs" that start next week after school. She'll do an extra hour four days of week of the following activities: Russian; Art; Ballet and Cooking. We'll have to see how staying that extra hour affects the time it takes to drive home. It's quite possible that 6 p.m. traffic could make the trip take more than twice as long--and getting home at 7 p.m. (or later) on a daily basis just isn't something I'm willing to do. Her school day doesn't begin until 1 p.m., but she's up each day by 8:30 a.m. anyway... That's just too long a day.

Every day Talia brings home a reader, flashcards, one simple sheet of homework and her day's artwork. She prances to the door, quite proud of the "big girl" contents of her backpack. She had me take this picture on our stoop after her first day; she even looks bigger! (Good thing no babushka was around; I'd have certainly been yelled at for letting Natalia lay down on cold marble!)

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