pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Stella told me yesterday that Vivien and she agreed that Amy was ready to stay in the kindergarten by herself for a while already.

So this morning, I brought her to the kindergarten by myself and stayed there for a quarter of an hour or so (until Kristin came, so Amy wouldn't be the only child), then I left when Kristin's father did.

Amy seemed to be fine with that; she was sitting on a bench with Vivien and having a book read to her. Stella will then be along later to pick her up.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

There was an article in the local newspaper about Amy's new kindergarten (with the headline "Now all that's missing is the children"!), with a picture of Vivien (the teacher), Stephi (the directrix), Till (the Zivi), and three children (Sana, Hussein, Kristin).

I imagine that if Amy were already going there every day, rather than once a week, she would have been on the picture, too.

It's also a little amusing that Stephi explicitly points out that "we've already got children from India, Poland, Sweden, and Arabia"; that accounts for four out of the six I know of so far :) So it's more of a coincidence that the first "batch" of children is so diverse. (And IIRC, Hussein's father is from Lebanon rather than "Arabia", though he travelled around a bit and I don't know where Hussein grew up.)

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Today, I brought Amy to kindergarten.

Stella wasn't feeling well, so she asked me whether I could take the day off work; as it happened, that worked fairly well, since our connection to the database servers still isn't up after the network switch we had over the weekend (all the workstations are on the new net, but nearly none of the various servers are so far).

So I took Amy there by myself. Only one girl was there so far: Adriana, who speaks German and Polish, with her mother Gosia. (Who was surprised that I "knew" [= guessed correctly] how to spell her name after having heard it. I just thought it sounded Polish, and since it didn't sound quite like [S], it was presumably [s\], which should be spelled <si> in that environment.) Incidentally, I was surprised how well Adriana spoke German when she later spoke to me; I assumed that since her mother spoke Polish to her (and vice versa) that her Polish would be much better than her German. Which it possibly is, but at any rate, her German seemed completely adequate.

Later on, Christine (who speaks Swedish and understands German) and Sana (who speaks Urdu and, to some extent, English—though she's already picked up a little bit of German) came with their father and mother, respectively, so there were four children, and we all had breakfast together there. (Amy sat at a table by herself [well, with me]; she seemed unwilling to sit at the main table with everyone else.)

I talked to Sana's mother, Shama, and asked whether they spoke Hindi at home and she said, yes, well, Urdu actually. I was going to ask how to write Sana's name in Indian, so this was good news as my command of the Arabic script is quite a lot better than of Devanagari :) They're سنا and شما, respectively.

Shama said she speaks not only Urdu (her mother tongue) and English (the language she received all her schooling in), but also Kannada, the official language of Karnataka, the state she's from (she's from Bangalore/Bengaluru). She can also read and write Kannada very well, which (as I understood it) she learned at school; in contrast, she had to learn to read and write her own language more or less by herself, since there's next to no formal instruction in/on Urdu where she comes from. (She also says my Arabic handwriting is better than hers, which I found surprising; since I only learned to read print, rather than handwriting, and I don't have any examples for good handwriting style, mine looks fairly close to type—which led one Arab to say that my handwriting looks like a first grader's.)

After a while, Vivien suggested that I withdraw and not play directly with Amy, since she's supposed to get to know the other children and the teachers and get used to them, rather than to expect me as a playmate, so I went into the kitchen (which adjoined the room where the children were most of the time). Amy still occasionally came to me, but for the most part, she played by herself. (Hardly at all with the other children, but perhaps/hopefully that will change later.) I also suggested to her several times when she came to me for help that she ask one of the teachers during the time she's in kindergarten.

Things went fairly well for about three hours, when she began to grow tired. When that happens, her frustration threshold goes down and eventually she started crying because a doll wouldn't fit properly into the pram, so I decided it was time to go. I took her to the toilet in case she fell asleep on the way home, and though by the time we came back, she was ready to continue playing, I got her dressed and we prepared to leave. (In the mean time, the other girls had all left, too, though two boys had come: a German(?) called Timo and a Lebanese called Hussein.)

Steffi (the leader, aka she of the amber eyes; I has asked her at breakfast time what she would prefer to be called and she said that with most parents, the teachers are on a first-name/"du" basis, and she's fine with "Steffi" rather than "Stephanie") accompanied us to the door. I asked her whether I might give her a hug and she, after apparently thinking about it briefly, extended her arms and so I gave her a quick goodbye hug.

Since the bus wasn't about to come for another few minutes, I set off walking with Amy to another bus stop, from where we would be able to take a bus straight home, without having to change.

Amy stayed awake (and walked on her own for most of the way, though it takes me about eight minutes on my own, probably twice that with Amy next to me) and we took the bus home. We ate yesterday's pizza for dinner, and then Stella went back to bed, where she had spent most of the morning, trying to recover a bit more. I "parked" Amy in front of the television for two showings of Der kleine König and most of Miffy.

Towards five or so, Amy was in Stella's bed, talking, cuddling, joking with her, and eating a biscuit I had brought her, when she started to fall asleep—something she normally never does voluntarily during the day. We kept her awake since we wanted her to fall asleep during the evening instead.

We had been invited to Bettina's birthday party, at fairly short notice since she had only decided on having a little party a couple of days previously. And indeed, Amy fell asleep in her pushchair on the way there, so that was good.

We had a four-course meal that Bettina had cooked (mostly by herself); it was worth 10 Weight Watchers Points, which was something that all the guests but Stella and I needed to know. (WW is fairly popular in our ward at the moment; all sorts of people are doing it, and Stella has asked whether I shouldn't consider it, too.)

After the food, we retired to the couch to continue our conversation, which was rather pleasant.

Later still, Peter broke out the "UltraStar Deluxe" software, and we sang a bit of karaoke.

Amy woke up and fussed a bit, but we managed to calm her down again.

Brigitte drove us home, which was nice since it was rather windy, and it had also rained when we came. (And besides, it takes about 25 minutes to walk, or 15 minutes if you take the unlit shortcut through the park).

When we got home, Amy let herself be undressed and put to bed; she was already half-asleep, apparently, so that all went fairly well.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

We took Amy to have a look at her new kindergarten this morning (the bilingual one).

We were the only ones there, except for the director and one teacher—since they only just started up on Monday, they only have a couple of kids coming so far and those only for an hour or two each day while they get used to the place.

They showed us the rooms, and it all seemed fairly nice. (And very not-lived-in yet!) So we signed the paperwork; at least, most of it, since the final calculation of what we'll pay will have to wait until we get the coupon from the Jugendamt (it'll depend on what they figure my net salary is after deductions).

At first, Amy stayed close by us (and wouldn't speak to either of the two ladies there); later, she played by herself, but only when Vivien wasn't in the room—she came into the office while we were in there with Stephanie, the director, and said that Amy would not really play while she was in there and wouldn't react when spoken to, but that as she was leaving the room, she saw Amy starting to get out some toys and play by herself.

After an hour or so, I left to go to work; Stella just called me to say that they had stayed for another couple of hours, and that Amy had "thawed" during that time and would speak to Vivien and Stephanie as well—and even put her head on Vivien's arm at one point.

So that seems auspicious.

Stella said she'll probably go back again tomorrow afternoon. There's a girl there called Christine whose first language is Swedish (her mother speaks to her in Swedish, her father in German, and the two amongst themselves in English) and who comes for an hour a day or so since Monday together with her father, and he suggested that it would be nice if there were another child there while Christine is getting used to the place, so since it was in the afternoon when Erik will be home already, Stella agreed.

Perhaps she'll also go there next Wednesday morning when she has her day off again.

It also seems that the getting-used phase when Amy officially starts may not need to be very long, given that she already seems to like the place and has already built up a small measure of trust in the teacher there.

(Who might not be her teacher in the end, but they'll probably have all the groups together initially until there are enough children to justify employing more people.)

When Stephanie and I went to have a look at the roof-top terrace (which is still under construction, but will belong exclusively to the kindergarten as soon as it's finished, and will include things such as sandpits and swings), I noticed her eyes in the light from the outside: they were a rather interesting (and pretty!) colour, sort of like amber, that I can't recall having seen before as an eye colour. They were too light to be called "brown", and I'm not sure whether "hazel" is the name for that colour.

Hm... *looks up the topic on Wikipedia* It seems that "amber" is the name I'm looking for. How prosaic :)


Thursday, 14 February 2008 23:04
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

We had heard about a bilingual kindergarten which was supposed to open in February in the building next to my office. Since they're not finished restoring the building yet, the date has slipped a bit (the current estimate is, apparently, for the kindergarten to open unofficially next week and official in March, subject to approval).

This evening, there was an informational meeting where the organisers of the SterniPark project (which the kindergarten will belong to) and the future leader of that kindergarten presented the project and the kindergarten. Thirty-five parents were invited, though only four (sets of) parents showed up (a man, a woman, a couple from India, and Stella and I).

It all seemed rather interesting; they had 500 m² (about 5400 sq.ft.) for up to 100 children, split up between a rooftop terrace of about 200–250 m² and the rest inside. They would offer an English-speaking and a German-speaking teacher(? - Erzieherin), who would each speak only their language to the children (though they'd respond to either language), so that children could become acquainted with a second language, whether or not they later choose to speak it themselves.

SterniPark also has a "forest bus" which four kindergartens currently share for a week each per month; during that week, a different group gets to use the 23-seater bus to go to the forest somewhere or into an animal park or a similar setting. It's possible that the new kindergarten in the Fleethaus will also be able to have the use of that forest bus occasionally.

They will also have a water area of about 4 meters by 4 meters (13 ft by 13 ft) where children can play in the water.

The staff present were the leader of SterniPark; the future leader of the Fleethaus kindergarten; two younger teachers and one older one; and a teacher from another kindergarten who had come to interpret into English during the meeting for the benefit of those who preferred that language (the couple from India, in this case).

The leader seemed rather young to me; when I asked her her age, she said she'd be turning 26. On the other hand, she's a lot older than the children so maybe that's enough. It still seems odd to me. (I suppose that makes me ageist, expecting someone more "mature" to lead such an establishment?)

After the meeting proper, the leader of SterniPark showed us through the house where the meeting was held, which was one of their older kindergartens (15 years, IIRC); they had converted two adjacent houses into rooms for children, so there were three (or four?) storeys, and in each storey, you could go from one house into the other. It was quite impressive.

They had children there from very young until twelve, in three rough age groups: Krippe (0–3 years), Kita (3–6 years), and Hort (6–12 years, after school). They also had a number of specialists come in regularly who'd do things such as make music; paint; work with clay; and psychomotoric development.

It all seemed rather impressive, and Stella said she was glad that we had lost (due to a possible move out of town which ended up not happening) the place in the Catholic kindergarten where we had signed Amy up for, since she found this kindergarten much better than the two others she had looked at so far.

So the current plan is for Amy to start there at the beginning of April, as soon as Erik is in kindergarten, too, and Stella doesn't have to look after him any more. Amy will probably only be there for three or four hours a day, in the mornings.


pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
Philip Newton

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