I went downstairs on my first day of school to find the dining-room full of children staring at me as I walked in. They looked at one another, some continued to eat their breakfast whilst others whispered to each other. I sat at a table with a few of the older children and started chatting with them. They either just nodded or bumbled back in Russian.
My days are prettry much the same. They start off with breakfast with the kids and then lessons for the rest of the morning. The kids are split up into three levels, early preschool (ages 1,5 - 2,5), preschool (ages 3-4) and kindergarten (ages 5-6). After lessons is play time and if the weather is good, which it is right now, they go outside to play. The weather is cooling down and the evenings are nippy so it won't be long before the snow starts and outside activities will have to be moved to indoors but for now it's outside. Then comes lunch which is the main meal of the day. Potatoes and other starches are served at almost every meal time here in Russia especially during the colder months. Lunch consists of barley soup with potatoes and a bit of vegetables and chicken. After lunch is nap time for the early preschoolers and preschoolers. The kindergarten kids have free time and I have a break until mid-afternoon. Snack time is after nap time and then afternoon lessons begin. We finish the day with playtime, again outside if weather permits followed by dinner time and then home time.
Even though winter is fast approaching, we are fairly close to the artic circle so daylight hours are between 7-8 hours per day. Summertime, daylights hours are as much as 18 hours per day.
As I was thrown into teaching with not much time to prepare, my lessons were made up as I went along. The kids seem to enjoy them and I think they went fairly smoothly. The weekend I'll have more time to prepare proper lessons and organise myself a bit better.
All in all the first two days went really well and I'm looking forward to starting a new week with proper lesson plans. The school has just started this English program for the kids so they have absolutely no materials whatsoever. Certainly a challenge! Thank goodness for my tablet. I downloaded songs, flashcards and stories. There is so much I still need but with time I'll get it all. I did suggest to the school that they get a few things for me and for my second day of teaching I had story books only. That's a start.
My kids always said that it's shocking that after seven years of living in Israel, I still cannot speak fluently. What they don't understand is that I did not go to school in Israel and neither did I go to the army. I worked for an English speaking company where everyone only ever spoke English and our clients were Americans and Brits. Where I am now, they only speak Russian. I am literally the only English speaker in the area so being thrown into the lions dens like this, I have no choice but to learn the language. I'll be speaking Russian in no time at all. Four days in the country and I've already learnt a few words and am starting to understand very little when the Russian teachers speak to me.
After school on Friday, I went outside to explore a bit of the estate I'm living in. Wow! It feels like I've stepped into a Hollywood movie. The houses are huge and the gardens even bigger. As I went outside after school, the parents starting arriving to fetch their kids and all I saw were BMW's, Land Rovers, Merc's and Porsches!
The house I'm in has three levels! There is a central park in the middle of the estate with a couple of lakes and pagoda's. I've seen two kiddies play areas as well as an exercise area for adults, similar to the ones we have in Israel. I doubt I'll be able to use them when winter comes around and the snow starts but at least I can make use of them now.
The entrance to the estate has 24/7 security. Entering the property is easier than leaving. When leaving, you need to open every door in the car as well as the boot and the security come around with a torch and check the car out before they'll let you leave. I'm not sure if this is an everyday procedure that needs to be followed or if it's temporary because of all the buidling going on in the estate.