Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Xiada Kindergarten

I took some more pictures at Zoe’s and Maya’s school today, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about it. And I’m really excited, I had one of the parents who speaks a little English talk to Maya’s teacher, and I’m now going to go to Maya’s class once a week to teach the children a little English. This will give me a chance to learn more about what is going on in her classroom. I’m going to make the same suggestion to Zoe’s teacher as soon as I find a parent in her class who can translate for me! Anyway, my first teaching gig is next Tuesday at 3:20.

The kindergarten is very brightly decorated. In the courtyard, the wall has a sea scene with all the sea creatures made from recycled things – I’m told it was a lesson in recycling from earlier in the school year. (I couldn't get my girls to stand still long enough to get their picture against the courtyard wall -- they were too busy playing in the castle -- so that's why you get a random student instead!)

The school is four levels, with a rooftop playground as well as a ground-level playground with the aforementioned castle. The ground-level playground is in the courtyard in the center of the building. There are walkways at each level visible from the courtyard, and each is decorated with a different season. I hope you can see that from the photo below, because it is quite nicely done with large murals on the sides of the walkways and hanging foliage to match the season as the roof of each walkway.

Zoe’s class climbs to the rooftop playground each morning for exercises – they do Tai Chi and a dance involving hoops. They also use basic exercise equipment like a balance beam, a rope bridge, a child-size ski machine – the same sorts of grown-up equipment you find in the parks here. They also ascend to the roof in the afternoon for more dancing, as evidenced here.

In addition to a classroom, each class has a bathroom/washroom and a nap room. The nap room has a small bed for each child, with a heavy sleeping bag and pillow for each bed.

The bathroom has a trough squat potty (Zoe is just assuming the position for purposes of demonstration!) I think the cleanliness of the squat potty here is amazing, especially considering that I took this picture at the end of the school day!
The washroom sink is a trough, too, going along two sides of the room. Hanging down from a pipe are cloth bags, and each bag contains a bar of soap. The kids just squeeze the bag with wet hands, and voila! Cleansing bubbles!

Each child has a metal cup (more sanitary and durable) for potable drinking water, and a labeled place on the shelf for the cup. Each child also has a cup and toothbrush for after lunch ablutions. (Teeth care is apparently important enough that a crew from the dental hospital came Monday to check each child’s teeth and administer a fluoride treatment.)

All in all, I’m pleased with the school. Things are very cheery and child-centered. Even the stair steps are child-sized (which is actually a pain when used by grown-ups).
The girls are loving school. Maya loves her teacher, and refuses to leave without giving her a hug and kiss. Zoe is eager to go to school each day – and just like at kindergarten in America, she won’t even let me walk her to class! What a big girl! So I'd say Chinese kindergarten at Xiada has been a really positive experience for the girls.


Anonymous said...

This is very interesting! I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences in China. Learning about Chinese kindergarten was great! Thanks for sharing this with us! My daughter was adopted at 8 months from Jiangxi province. She is 5 now and doing great. We returned last summer for an adoption homeland tour and had a wonderful time. Keep the daily posts coming!!!

Anonymous said...

Could you post what does an elementary teacher make in a city
like Xiamen? I'm a teacher in the
USA and I'm very curious!
Do the children go to school year
round? Do they get a summer break?
I would love the chance to maybe
teach a year in China.

mimifrancoise said...

Loved the pictures and your description of the kindergarten. You'll have fun teaching the kids some English and Maya will enjoy it too. Hope you can do same in Zoe's class.

Sophie's Mom said...

This post is very interesting! I've wondered about such things, and now I know. Thank you so much for sharing the details of her school.