For the past two weeks we have been going to Parents & Tots / Preschool. It was very nerve-wracking the first day. I didn't know whether we would be welcomed or not, and didn't want to put my kids into a bad situation. On the other hand I didn't really want to stay in the house for 2 years. So off we went. And it was okay. But still stressful. There is nobody there for whom English is a first language, and although they know what they learned in school, they definitely don't use it on a daily basis. Everybody was very helpful, and I do feel that we are welcomed there. The parents and tots part is more for babies, while preschool is for 3 and up. Therefore, Logan doesn't fit into either group. However, we seem to have found a compromise, so that we stay in the same room while the big kids do writing projects and he can either sit at the table and write, or we sit on the floor and look at a book.
It is a very structured program, way more so than I expected. Before school starts, the kids brush their teeth, get a sticker on their calendar, and trace out their name.
Every day "circle time" starts at exactly 1:30. Everybody (moms, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elders, whoever is there) sits in a circle and we start with a prayer. Then a teacher goes around the room, address each child by name, and asks how they are, the child responds, then they ask what they did yesterday. Once everybody has had a turn, the kids get to pick a song or rhyme to sing. Some are English, most are not! We have learned Twinkle Star in Inuktitut, and I'm sure the kids will know more soon. Once songs are done, they go over the calendar and say (I think) what day yesterday was, what day today is, and what day tomorrow will be, along with the month and the date. Somewhere in there we also count how many people are present.
After all that, the kids go get their library books from the day before, line up, and take them back to the library where they pick a new one (unless it's Friday, when they pick 2). They check them out, then find the sticker with their name on it (in Inuktitut, of course) to label their book. Then they line up and go back into the classroom.
When they are back in the room they do something different depending on what day it is. Now, we've only been going for 2 weeks, and not everyday, so I'm not exactly sure yet. But it seems that Mondays are "journaling" where they concentrate on colouring in the lines, numbers and shapes, and well as writing out the names for the numbers. Only been there for one Monday so far; we'll see next week. I think we've missed both Tuesdays so far. Wednesdays are cooking day. They all went into the kitchen, washed their hands and made pizza. They all took turns kneading the dough, spreading it out, covering with sauce, putting the toppings on, etc. Thursday they did those developmental things I read about in books!! Continuing a pattern ( X O X O __ __ __ __), cutting shapes, matching and gluing them. Friday is game day. Last week we played dice games, then the kids played picture bingo while the moms played their own dice game. This week we played different dice games and we all played picture bingo together, as well as a round of a musical chair kind of game. This may be the most important learning day for our household, as the adults play too, and they certainly don't let the kids win! Not that we do, but the competition is fierce, and when you are out of musical chairs, you are out! I will admit, there were some tears, but lesson learned, I think. After the games on Friday, the kids play with toys or blocks. Every day ends with a healthy snack. All of that takes an hour and a half. We all come home exhausted!
It is difficult to be completely immersed in a new language and culture. I try to stay out of helping Liam and just keep Logan busy. I'm glad that this Friday the teacher pretty much stopped speaking English to Liam during circle time, as he has stopped paying attention until he hears English. I'm sure he would learn faster if I weren't there, but Logan just isn't old enough to participate fully, and he's too old to just sit on my lap while the other moms have coffee and sew. There was another kid his age there on Friday, but unfortunately he seemed to have spent the whole time crying, poor kid. Maybe next week.
Liam can recognize and write his name in Inuktitut now, and Logan is about 50/50. Now if only Mom was 100% sure! Like I said, we've learned Twinkle Star, how to count to 10, and they just gave me a copy of the prayer that we start off with. Everybody is very kind, which is a huge relief. There is a big language barrier, but hopefully that will come down with time. We'll see what next week holds for us!