On October 1 our boys launched into their English curriculum. They love Mr. and Mrs. Blaker who guide them through Language Arts, Science, Math, History and so much more. As we put on our coats for the walk up the hill that day, Darin said “I’m starting school for the third time this school year!”
On September 1 Darin and Ryan began their three-week taste of life in a local Russian school. The first day is a sort of welcome holiday with only one hour of class–a display lesson for the “Day of Knowledge.”
Russian kids generally start school at age 7. So Ryan joined a second grade class to be with his age mates. He very happily celebrated his eighth birthday with them the following week, too.
Darin, at age 10, would have fit well in fourth grade. But the fourth graders were attending afternoon classes and we had agreed with the boys that they would attend morning classes. So Darin began with the third grade class.
On the Day of Knowledge, I arrived a little early with both boys. Their classes were in different buildings, so Darin ended up having to go in all by himself while I went to help Ryan. After Ryan’s class we ran back to Darin’s building to find that he was standing in front of his 29 new classmates giving a speech about himself in Russian!
After a week of third grade, it was obvious that Darin needed older, more mature classmates. So we took a huge step and put him in to fifth grade. The first four years the same group of students stays with the same teacher. Then they go to fifth grade and have different teachers for each subject and different schedules for each day. Putting Darin into this class was like taking a kid who had never attended public school in the US and putting him into middle school.
Darin was a little nervous on the day he started fifth grade. His new homeroom teacher also teaches English and she met us at the door with a friendly greeting and led us up the stairs through the bustle of students. Darin found a seat in the narrow wooden room and began his one-and-a-half-week career as a Russian fifth grader.
Some days were difficult with schedules of double lessons in Russian language, then Buryat language and then math. But one day had a very good schedule–a double lesson in English, then art, then Phys Ed.
Darin’s happiest “first day of school” was returning to his lessons with the Blakers. But from his days in Russian classes, he gained confidence in his Russian language, got to know some kids his age, and had an inside glimpse of Russian culture that his parents have never experienced.