Thursday, November 6, 2014

Parents Day at Chinese Kindergarten

Welcoming the parents and grandparents
Today Juliana's 幼儿园 kindergarten had a "parents day" where parents and grandparents could come and see a typical morning of kindergarten.  Since the reports we get are usually a big convoluted, it was interesting and helpful to see exactly what Juliana does while she's gone!

This morning we caught a taxi to school since I needed to bring Adalyn along too.  I dropped Juliana off and then went to a friend's house (The mother of Juliana's Norwegian classmate used to be my language school classmate) for a quick cup of coffee while the kids ate their breakfast.  Then we headed back to the kindergarten.

The back of the large classroom was lined with child size chairs, already crowded with parents and grandparents when we came in.  The two dozen children were lined up in their own chairs near the front of the room, waving excitedly to their parents.
Telling a story about candy rain
The lead teacher asked the children some questions and then told a short story about when it rained candy.  She showed a large picture which went along with the story.  She asked if the children had ever seen it rain candy, and they all replied, yes, they had!

She called on different children to tell what kind of rain they would like to see.  Candy, ice cream, and hamburgers were some of the answer she received.  She asked where they would like to see this rain, and the children answered, "Just outside my door!" or "Inside my house!"  She asked what they would use to collect the candy-rain.  "My hat!  My gloves!  My clothes!"

The group of 4 year olds were surprisingly quiet and orderly.  I guess this is one of the important things you learn at kindergarten!  After the story, the children gathered at different tables to paint a collective picture based on the story, using paints and q-tips.

By this point the kids were getting a bit more restless, and there was a break for drinking water (they each have a tin cup in their own cup cubby), using the bathroom, and generally wandering around the classroom.
Collaborative painting

Next several activity stations were set up.  One group of children painted pictures.  Another built with connecting block-tiles.  Juliana's group used a large box of different colored cylinders to build a tower.  Toward the end of the activities the calm was beginning to evaporate, and after some clean up the kids got on their coats.

We all traipsed outside to the large courtyard and playground area.   The students each lined up on a painted spot on the ground and the teachers led them in dances.  I already knew the dancing is Juliana's favorite part, and she had it down pretty well!  They did several different dances and Juliana seemed to know just what to do for all of them, adding a little extra hip-shaking-vigor of her own.

Inside the classroom Juliana seemed a little lost some of the time.  She watched the other children, but I could tell she didn't understand a lot of what was going on.  I saw her stand around uncertainly, trying to figure out what she was supposed to be doing, and I felt glad she is young enough to not have developed too much self-consciousness.
Doing a circle dance with a partner
But dancing outside, Juliana returned to her confident self.  She knew just what to do and could follow the directions better than many of her classmates.  And she loves to dance!  Everyday she still tells me that dancing is her favorite.

After dancing, the children got out balls to throw back and forth with their parents and had a little time on the playground.  The kindergarten has a lot of great playground equipment, which is a big plus for a little kid!
Serving lunch
Outside time was over far too soon (as far as Juliana was concerned) and the kids were ushered back inside for lunch.  The teachers ladled out rice, meat, and vegetables into their metal bowls.  The children eat with spoons; generally chopstick skills are learned a little later.

By this point all the parents were getting a bit antsy, because after the children were done eating, they could take them home.  "Eat quickly.  Come on, eat quickly so we can go home."  Which was what I was telling Juliana as well!
Adalyn wonders when someone is going to feed her
For Adalyn's part, she thought kindergarten was very interesting, especially being outside.  Inside she charmed many grannies and aunties and uncles with her big smiles.

One auntie kept asking Adalyn if she could hold her, and Adalyn kept shying away against me.  Then the auntie said, "我抱抱你,给你好吃的!Let me hold you!  I will give you something good to eat."  Adalyn smiled and held out her arms!  So maybe she understands more Chinese than I realized!

Adalyn making friends with a 姐姐 (big sister)
I was really glad to get a better picture of Juliana's school.  In many ways it seems just like I would expect from any preschool.  I felt a little sad thinking about how much Juliana would thrive in American preschool, if she understood everything that was going on and could interact easily with the other kids.

When I watched her standing uncertainly, twirling her hair and wondering what she was supposed to be doing, I thought, “Surely this is too much to ask of a 4 year old.  To go every day to a place where they stand out, don’t understand, and don’t fully belong.”  But despite the difficulty, Juliana really seems to enjoy kindergarten.

I was proud of her, as I saw her watching the other kids to see what she should be doing, as she waited patiently through the parts she didn't understand, as she dove in and got involved anyway.  Her resilience and natural confidence came through. I am so thankful kindergarten has been a positive experience for Juliana!

1 comment:

Candace Hull said...

I have no doubt that the dancing is her favorite part. Her Chinese will improve and she'll understand more eventually. It's a fantastic experience.
It does make you wonder how much Adalyn understands!