So today we started a new small chapter. Yes, moving halfway around the world is kind of a big chapter, but I would say more like starting a new book, right? So today’s chapter was Avinelle going to preschool and Mama and Papa (Russian way of saying “Daddy”, we are trying to switch her lol) started official lessons with a Russian language tutor. After being here for two months now, we have a HUGE desire to communicate! (Even Avinelle does with her little friends she has made) It is extremely frustrating to not always understand what is going on! While we understand that immersion is a VERY LARGE part of learning language and we agree, we decided we needed to take things up a notch to help us all along…
So, about Preschool. Avinelle will be going to Preschool (called “Kindergarten” here), actually more correctly it is a Kids Center (Sunshine Montessori Center) because it is not officially a Kindergarten. An official Kindergarten has its own building, more paperwork regulations and officially serves meals to the children. This kids center is the back two rented rooms of a house in a quiet neighborhood off one of the main roads. It has a bathroom attached and a nice back porch, courtyard and grassy area where the children can play. I actually went to about 7 different kindergartens and “interviewed” them to check into the environment and location. “Why put Avinelle in Preschool?” you may ask. Here are our reasonings:
- Russian. We want Avinelle to learn Russian along with us, and this Preschool the teachers speak in English, Russian And Kazakh with every instruction they give to the children.
- Social. Especially as Avinelle gets older, we want her to continually be placed in social environments that Mom and Papa are not always a part of.
- Culture. We are in a new country and new home, and she needs to learn along with other children the cues and do’s and don’ts of Central Asia, and not just “this is what Mom and Papa say to do or don’t do”
- Development. Now this Preschool focuses on Montessori. Back in the day when I (Charity) was in Kona, HI at University of the Nations, I was a helper at a Montessori Preschool, and I LOVED the learning style! I think Avinelle will adapt well to this and learn bunches in this environment.
- Timing. It is possible for us to only do 4 hours a day/3 days a week here and this timing is great with us taking Russian lessons and as we add more “work” with the development of the greenhouse and company as I am assisting Andrew with all of this and need to be accessible here and there to help.
Just some other notes about this Preschool- We really like the ratio of Teacher to kids. There is 1 teacher for every 5 kids, max 10 kids. It is a smaller place so this makes us feel better, too. Avi doesn’t do as well in larger crowds we noticed. We like the safety of the courtyard where the kids play. We like that the Owner/Teacher speaks great English so we can actually communicate with her/them ourselves lol. I learned that this was an important factor for us as I was visiting Preschools and my friend came to translate and I thought “Do I really want to put Avi in a Preschool where I have to bring a friend along for the next couple of years just so I can communicate with the Director and/or Teacher? Ummmm… I think not. Also, this place “the price was right” HAHA. While we try not to let finances determine what we do or don’t do, we also try to be wise with our means and feel this place fits within our means. Lastly, I feel like this place will work well with us on helping potty train Avinelle (yes, we are still in the thick of this- ugh, not much progress except the fact that she doesn’t like pooping in real undies so at least there’s that)
So, about Russian courses. I did a bit of research on this as well. While Almaty is a big city and there are universities and definitely it’s fare share of courses, we decided to go with a personal tutor. Here it is not about WHAT you know but most definitely WHO you know! The lady we decided to use as our Tutor is our friend’s Mom. She has been a Tutor with her own business for the last 5 years and has been a teacher including the last 5 years for about 25 years which is wonderful for experience. One recommendation from friends here is “not just anyone can teach you how to speak/read/write Russian, you need a teacher”. We’ve heard horror stories of friends “swapping English for Russian” lessons, you know, conversational between friends and how “well” that has worked out lol. We decided to go with a Tutor for the following reasons:
- It is actually not too expensive to hire a tutor here and it is most definitely more economical to do classes together which is awesome.
- We didn’t want to mess or bother with registration and the paperwork with becoming students of a university right now in the midst of all the new things in our life, didn’t want to add more stress HAH.
- The tutor’s office is about a 10 min walk from Avinelle’s Preschool, so the location is just right! We scheduled our lessons (which are 45 min each, 90 min back to back total each day) on the same days as Avi’s Preschool days.
- Tutoring lessons are a very catered learning environment- she only moves at the pace that we need/want.
- Flexibility. While we have set a schedule with our Tutor, it is possible to move locations (she can come to our home if needed) as well as days/times, whereas if you take classes, you can’t really move the classes that are already set!