Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten in Poland

Yesterday was Aaron's very first day of school.  Considering the fact that he has never been to preschool, doesn't speak Polish well yet, and his kindergarten class had already been meeting for a month (while we were in the states), we felt at least as anxious/excited about this first day as other parents do when sending their kindergartner off for their very first day of school (i.e. extremely).  Here's how the first 10 minutes of his day went, before we left him.

We got to his school a few minutes late and opened the door to his classroom where we saw all the children seated and working (coloring) in their workbooks.  His teacher, who strongly resembled a blond, short Tina Turner (husky voice included) said, "Oooooh!!  (to the class) This is the child I told you would be coming late!" then to Aaron, "Are you going to hang up your bag and coat in the locker room?  Are you?  Come, I'll show you how to do it."  She scooted past us and lead us out the door and down the hall to where the bags and coats go and showed us how it worked.

We returned to the classroom and Aaron just stood in the middle of the room looking around.  Greg came up behind him and said, "So this is Aaron, and he is going to be in your class, Aaron, these are your classmates!"  More standing.  The teacher made a few comments during this time, but sort of unimportant observations.  

Finally Greg asked if Aaron should sit down.  The teacher seemed to snap out of it and said, "Oh, yes.  There's a chair here for him... one with his name taped on it..."  she finally found it and offered it to Aaron, seating him at a table with 6 boys.  He sat.  We smiled at him.  The kids glanced at him and continued to work.  Pause, pause.  Greg again took the initiative and went up to the kid next to Aaron and asked his name and introduced him and Aaron to each other.  The kid smiled hugely at the attention and Aaron relaxed a little.

The teacher called out occasionally to the children, "We're working!" while she and Greg talked for a minute. We were ready to leave but Aaron looked really uncomfortable sitting there with nothing to do while the other children worked.  The teacher said, "Oh, yeah.  He can work in his books later."  We could only watch him sit there for a few excruciating minutes before Greg suggested that maybe it would actually be good for Aaron to do what the other kids were doing.  The teacher agreed and got out his book and colored pencils and showed him what assignment they were doing.  Aaron's face lit up and he got right to work.  

We told his teacher that we wanted this to be his orientation day and that we'd pick him up in about an hour.  She assured us that that he'd be fine, over and over.  I'm sure we seemed like real hover parents.

We walked away arm in arm and repeated to ourselves, "He'll be fine, he'll be fine."

The teacher hadn't introduced herself or anybody by name.  She asked no questions (apart from the cloakroom one), she actually didn't speak directly to Aaron apart from that one incident.  I think if Greg hadn't gotten him settled we would have come back an hour later and Aaron would have still been standing in the open area of the room and the class would have been going on with their day.  

8 comments:

Erin said...

This is so different from Lizzy's kindergarten experience. Her teachers were so sweet and did their best to get Lizzy to engage in activities. So many of the kids were so sweet to her and asked her to play and would give her big hugs everyday. She still had a hard time. I think if the teacher had been like this, we would have given up! Nathan was very similar to Greg and tried to get her doing an activity with a friend before he left.

Monika said...

That's a disapointing first day for Aaron and you guys :( it's always a bit harder to adjust to a new school starting a month behind everyone else, but it's not an excuse to let a young boy feel so uncomfortable. Hopefully the teacher had an "unusual" day herself, otherwise you could find a better school. I'd prefer a full on, exiting teacher not a stunt mullet. They should teach them to look after young children's needs

Laura said...

Not to make you feel any worse about it, but that's terrible! I agree that teachers of young children should know how to work with young children. Maybe she was just nervous about having you guys there?
Right as I left my son's classroom, they were doing an active activity and he got bonked and came running to me crying. The teacher didn't see what happened and thought he was just sad to see me leave, but I knew him better than that, he had no problems in those regards. I have to admit it made it harder for me to control my own emotions though as they were so close to the surface anyway. I was strong, for him, and I trusted his strength too as he bravely turned back to join the group.
I'm proud of you for being strong too --but if things just don't feel right, go with your gut. You're the Momma.

Laura said...

P.S. I would hate to see him indoctrinated with the apathy towards school that I saw so many young people had there in Poland, it may or may not have been a product of the system. Then again, perhaps kids here in the states expect to be entertained in school, not to mention the feeling of entitlement, and the mess that parents can cause by getting too involved... The door swings both ways I guess. Aaron will be fine, because he's got a wonderful support system --his family.

Kazzy said...

Sorry it wasn't ideal. Some teachers are not instinctive when it comes to helping the kids build relationships. They just know the academics, and that may be it. I am sure he will thrive. Kids are pretty tough that way. Best wishes!

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Lindsay said...

Oh dear. :( I hope he loves her!

Susan said...

I did read this one last year, for the record.