Today, I went to the 1st wywiadówka of Lizzie’s school career and the 1st in my mothering career. The turn-out was sad, only 2 parents made an appointment with the teacher out of the whole class, but so what, my appointment was great and it was all in Polish!
It reminded me of my 1st parent/teacher conference as a teacher in the US . I was all prepared, and I lined up some chairs outside of the room just in case some parents had to wait to speak to me, the all-important educator of their precious children. I had more than 120 students and was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to meet with as many parents as I wanted to. Another teacher walking down the hall observing me and my chairs said, “You know no one is coming, right?” “What d’ya mean?” “No parents come to parent/teacher conferences in this school.” “Oh,” I said and went back into my classroom where I slumped down in my chair and waited and waited and waited. My first parent appeared and gave me his name which didn’t sound familiar. I couldn’t find that surname on my list. He then gave me his child’s name and we were rolling. I felt so teachery and after he left, I checked the hall for others waiting. No one was there. After more waiting, one of my students arrived with his grandfather who said that he now knew why his grandson was so interested in history. The poor boy was terribly embarrassed, but that’s what grandpa’s are for. After another hour of waiting, I decided to pack it in. 2 visits and not even of the problem students. 2 visits from 120 students.
Anyhow, back to Lizzie’s conference, Pre-school Parent/Teacher Conference, no less. I think it was her teacher’s 1st wywiadówka as well, so I went easy on her 😉 I learned that Lizzie is a quiet and very well-behaved child, even too well-behaved. She likes to stick with her best friend and almost exclusively chooses cars and trucks to play with and always puts them away when she’s done. She is an excellent painter and takes her art work quite seriously. All in all, she is developing well.
Together, we devised a plan to separate Lizzie a bit from her best friend in the class because those two girls are addicted to each other. They both need to learn to mingle with the other kids. In addition, to draw Lizzie out, I suggested giving her a role to play. She likes to hide a little behind a role and feels freer to be more outgoing when she is playing someone else. I asked her teacher to correct her Polish and to not worry about her English “r” in Polish words. When she says rowerek, it is so sweet. I also asked her to be aware that Lizzie is so in love with Pre-school that she wouldn’t tell the teachers if she got ill…probably until it was too late and words like vomit and carpet come into play.
I’m pleased with Lizzie’s Pre-school. I don’t really have anything to compare it with. I didn’t go to pre-school in America. The day is nicely structured. The children have a lot of free play, semi-structured play and structured play. Each day they focus on different areas of development. One day is music, another art, gymnastics, etc. Today was addition and subtraction. Each group has about 20-25 kids, but they are rarely all present. Each group also has 3 teachers (a morning teacher and an afternoon teacher with some overlap and an assistant for the whole day).
They have to feed the little buggers as well. They have breakfast, soup and dessert, and dinner and fruit. After years and years of American processed school lunch, I am impressed with the food my daughter receives at school (ok, minus the breakfast parówki). At about 8:30, the kids have cereal with milk or oatmeal/cream of wheat, a sandwich and a drink. Sometimes they even have inka which thrills Lizzie to no end because she says that she had coffee at school. At about 11:00, they have hot soup and a dessert such as a cookie or fruit gelatin or pudding. At about 1:30, they have dinner which can be anything from pierogi (known happily by the kids as “Pierogi Day!!!!”), a piece of meat, potatoes, a vegetable, or crepes or pasta. Juice, water and compote are served to drink. They also get a fresh piece of fruit after dinner which they actually eat. They eat in the classroom and 2 ladies bring a trolley with food from the kitchen. Sometimes I’d like to get a plateful of dinner, too. It smells so good!
It’s a public school, but that doesn’t mean that it is free. The tuition, food, supplies, parent’s committee and some other payments add up to about 350 zloty a month. Is that cheap or expensive? It depends on your vantage point. The monthly gross minimum wage in Poland is about 1,300 zloty with the net minimum wage working out to be about 980 zloty a month. That means the cost of Pre-school is 36% of the after-tax minimum wage.
The next big event on the Pre-school agenda is a presentation for Grandparents because Thursday this week is Dzień Babci (Jan 21st) and Friday is Dzień Dziadka (Jan 22nd) (Grandmother’s Day and Grandfather’s Day). Our Babcia will be there. Lizzie has made a laurka (card) and has been practicing her poem for the show. She can’t wait!
Kocham moją babcię, kocham mego dziadka.
Ale jak im o tym powiedzieć?
Może im zaspiewać, wtedy będą wiedzieć!
Aby babcia i dziadek
w zdrowiu długo żyli
Aby uśmiech dla nas mieli
w każdej wolnej chwili
AnonymousJanuary 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm
How long did it take you to speak Polish to the level you did and how did you do go about doing/learning it. I've been here nearly 2 months and I'm having a lot of trouble with speaking, although I can read simple stuff and understand basic conversation.
ChrisJanuary 21, 2010 at 4:25 pm
I originally came to Poland for one school year, returned to the States for a couple of years and then came back. The 1st year I was here I learned a lot of vocabulary (by heart) and sentences/phrases I needed for my everyday life (also by heart). Then I forgot them all when I went back home.When we came to Poland again, I didn't even try to speak outside my memorized phrases for about a year. Then we bought a tv and in my spare time I watched and tried to emulate what I heard. I also started to read short magazine and newspaper articles.Now I read a lot and try to talk to people even if they are not interested in talking to me (ask my neighbors). I have never taken a course nor done any grammar exercises as you could guess from my Polish post but I know a lot of vocab and words. Misiu doesn't even try to teach me because he knows that it could be dangerous for our marriage. I think understanding basic conversation and reading simple texts is a huge accomplishment for 2 months. Eventually, you'll cross some threshold and start talking. If I were you, I would continue to do what you are doing and when you've got more vocab and verbs under your belt, hire a teacher or sign up for a course.Are you currently living in Poland?
UnknownJanuary 22, 2010 at 10:03 am
Hi Chris, thanks for the reply.Yes, I'm currently living in Poland, I moved here from England about 2 months ago with my Polish fiancee. I'm loving it so far :-)That's incredible that you've got to such a good level from just remembering phrases without touching the scary grammar. I've started watching the TV and listening to the radio, and I can understand some words but not enough to get the meaning of the sentence. But you've certainly given me hope that it's possible, thank you :-), there are no other native-english speakers in my area that I know off, I thought they all got scared, ha ha.My fiancee tries to practice with me, but we're so used to talking in English that it never works, however the rest of her family only speak Polish. I also have a teacher who gives me lessons over Skype, she's really good and refuses to speak any English with me.Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog, thank you for sharing your experiences in Poland.
ChrisJanuary 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm
Tony-I think you are on your way. One additional thing that I did was try to write my own dialogues of different situations (bank, post office, doctor) and then Misiu corrected them. Sometimes even now I get discouraged but we have to keep on trying, right?There are probably a lot of native speakers where I live but I only meet with a couple of English speakers once in a while. I probably should talk to them more often to save my own English, you know, free use of idioms and complicated structures. Thanks for reading and I'm glad that you like it. I've lived here all in all about 10 years so give yourself some time to adjust and get used to the language.:)