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.