No matter where you go, kids are kids. Today, we spent more time at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum, and we also visited a “kindergarten,” which is the word that they use here for a nursery school.
Kindergartens here are public and officially they are free for any child age two to six. I use the word “officially” because I get the impression that sometimes parents are asked to donate money or need to give bribes to get students in. The one we visited today is one of the better ones in the area. Like in the United States, parents need to get on a waiting list when the baby is born to get them into the kindergarten of their choice.
The school we visited is open for many hours — from 6:30 am until the evening. From two years old, they have structured classes to attend. We observed classes of gymnastics, painting, English language, music, writing, and more. The students have class from 8:30 until lunch, and then there’s a nap room they sleep in. The school appears to have many resources, from stuffed animals and other toys to a swimming pool and sauna. Class size is approximately one teacher for every ten children.
We also spent more time at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum. In the English classes that we’ve visited, they use multiple methods of instruction.
They have workbooks for grammar exercises and CDs to listen to songs and readings. They also ask students to share opinions and information about themselves.
The teachers here also value games and activities that get students moving. For example, we observed our host teacher, Lydia, leading a quiz game where teams of first grade students competed against each other to remember English vocabulary. Like in the United States, the game made students excited and they had a hard time controlling their enthusiasm:
Overall, the students are very formal in the classroom. They dress in button down shirts and nice slacks and skirts. They stand when the teacher enters and are very polite. They are taught to recite answers, poems, and songs. However, when we see the way that the teachers here interact with the students outside of class, it’s clear the relationship is warm and anything but formal. Our host teacher, Lydia, gets phone calls on her cell phone from parents of her students, and she follows their growth from when they are very little until they are adults. It’s clear that the relationship is personal and she knows her students well.
Tonight we had a traditional dinner with Lydia, the principal, and two other teachers. We had a grand time! The kindness and warmth make Zaporizhya feel like home. Soon, I will post photos of our wonderful evening.