May 04 2011

Anna’s Playgroup

Category: Anna's Photos,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 12:56 pm

I’ll try and find the area or street name out from Irina later on, but I just wanted to write a quick post about the playgroup/kindergarten/insert your preferred phrase here that Anna attends.
Every Tuesday and Thursday I drive Anna over to the playgroup. The journey isn’t too bad, considering we catch the tail end of rush hour, and need to travel via a few major roads. Now that Anna is happy wearing her sunglasses, I don’t get a blood curdling scream every time we’re facing the sun whilst driving, which reminds me, we need to go and find a better fitting pair this evening – I think the current glasses are designed with younger children in mind.
Anyway, we arrive and park up the car, then proceed to the entrance door (the location is basically a converted flat/apartment, so they share their main doorway with all the other people living there). Once buzzed in, Anna walks up to the second floor (she stopped trying to demand being carried up and down stairs a good few weeks back now) with me, and we get welcomed in. Although this is Kazakhstan, only the children need to remove their outdoor shoes (the room they go into has a carpet, the parents are in a reception area that has lino). We take off the multiple layers that local customs dictate must swaddle your child, even if the temperature is well above freezing and you’ve driven there(!), and then the children go into their room with the teacher. If we’ve arrived early enough, Anna can join in playing with some of the toys there, whilst we wait for everyone to arrive. Speaking of everyone, the other children tend to number between two and five others. Just about the right size, IMO.
Once the session is about to start, the door is shut (partially to ensure the kids don’t constantly run in and out to be with their mothers (I’m the only Dad in attendance), and also because as I’ve mentioned before, the mums do tend to talk quite loudly, despite being sat only a metre or two away from each other. As the glass is frosted, I can only go from the sounds I hear, but it seems as though there is a routine each time, starting off with a song that gets them all involved (singing, pointing at each other when their names are mentioned and other hand actions). The rest seems to be semi-educational, semi-fun. Each time, the children complete some sort of Arts & Crafts project, I’m amazed at how little mess Anna has on her by the end of it! Anyway, this carries on for around 40/45 minutes, they have a regular goodbye sort of song, and then the door is opened. Normally happy and bouncy, they all run out to their respective Mum or Dad, usually brandishing their artwork with pride. We reverse the previous domification (not a real word, dom is home in Russian) of clothing and footwear, and get ready to head home. Most weeks, whilst the children are playing and there are multiple simultaneous loud Russian language conversations going on, I pop outside for a cigarette and return to watch very old episode of Dr Who from the 60s on my phone. It might appear a little rude, but to be honest if I sit there doing nothing, my brain tries to listen to all the competing conversations at once, and gradually melts down as it tries to grab a few words of the vocab I know, and build up a picture of exactly what they are talking about.
Anna seems to enjoy going their each time, I can’t remember a “I don’t want to go” sort of reaction prior to leaving our flat. The price is very reasonable, to the point of wondering how they’re actually making enough profit to pay both the staff there! They recently asked everyone to sign contracts, basically setting out what we can expect from them, and what they expect from us (if you don’t turn up, please get a note from a doctor if you don’t want to be charged), but they are very reasonable, not even charging us for the time I tried to turn up, found a road blocked and didn’t manage to find a better route. All the children seem to get on very well with the teacher, and whilst the room doesn’t have all the latest academic gadgets, and isn’t really close to where we live, the fact that Anna is happy there, and happy with the nice lady who teaches (OK, need to find a better word than teacher, but you know what I mean) means we’re happy to keep taking Anna there.

This photo was taken recently – the bright sun at the window confused the not-too-great sensor in my phone’s camera, but it gives you a basic idea of the place.

Anna Arrives Early For Playgroup

Anna Arrives Early For Playgroup