A day in a Russian kindergarten Posted by bota on Sep 24, 2020 in Culture, language, Russian life, when in Russia
“Зо́лушка” (“Cinderella”), “Ска́зка” (“Fairy Tale”), “Одува́нчик” (“Dandelion”), “Улы́бка” (“Smile”), “Слонёнок” (“Baby Elephant”). At first, these might seem like random words strung together, but in Russia, if they are preceded by “Де́тский Сад” (“kindergarten”) these names evoke some of the sweetest, most carefree days of one’s childhood.
And what’s there not to love about kindergarten days?
A typical day of a kindergartener is a busy one but filled with love, care, and nap time. (Note: there isn’t a direct ‘one-word solution’ for a “kindergartener” in Russian, so the kids are usually just called “малыши́” or “де́ти”, meaning “toddlers” or “children”).
Depending on the age group and the kindergarten, the schedule might vary, but children ages 4-6 in Russian kindergartens usually follow this распоря́док дня (daily routine):
7:00 — 8:00 While the kids arrive, воспита́тель/воспита́тельница (kindergarten teacher) is usually running between greeting the parents and helping the children ease into the day by playing games and having игру́шки и кни́жки (toys and books) available to keep everyone entertained.
8:00 — 8:20 This time is set aside before breakfast to make sure the kids have washed their faces and hands. Some kindergartens also include у́тренняя гимна́стика (morning exercises) to help the kids wake up.
8:20 — 8:50 Пе́рвый за́втрак (the first breakfast) most often consists of some type of ка́ша (porridge) and хлеб с ма́слом и сыром (bread with butter and cheese). Children are also given either чай с са́харом (tea with sugar), молоко́ (milk), кефи́р с са́харом (kefir with sugar), сок (juice), кисе́ль (“kissel”, a sweet fruit juice thickened with cornstarch or potato starch), or компо́т (“kompot”, a sweet beverage made of stewed dried fruits).
9:00 — 9:40 After breakfast, there is always an educational activity of some sort. It may be чита́льный час (reading hour), a fun game or activity designed to develop motor skills, or a musical/theatrical activity, where kids learn songs, dance, or rehearse for a play. The latter activity is likely to take place if the kindergarten group is getting ready for performance for Но́вый Год (New Year), Восьмо́е Ма́рта (8th of March – International Women’s Day for which kindergartens usually prepare a performance for kids and their mothers), or some other holiday.
9:40 — 11:30 Weather permitting, there are always some игры на у́лице (playtime outside) to tire out the kids before lunch and naptime.
11:30 — 12:30 Lunch menu in Russian kindergartens certainly varies but there are a few nostalgic dishes that I cannot not mention, like котле́ты с карто́шкой пюре́ (meatballs with mashed potatoes), борщ (borsch), and голубцы́ (stuffed cabbage leaves). There are also always some salads, like винегре́т or сала́т с помидо́рами и огурца́ми (vinegret or salad with tomatoes and cucumbers).
12:30 — 15:00 An integral part of a kindergartener’s day is ти́хий чаc (nap time). There is usually a separate room with beds or bunk beds, and the kids are taught how to заправля́ть посте́ль (make their bed) after the nap time is over.
15:00 — 17:00 After nap time, kids often have time to play on their own or the teacher gives out раскра́ски (coloring books) while also getting everyone ready for по́лдник (light second lunch or snack time). По́лдник can consist of some молоко́ с печеньками (milk and cookies), йогу́рт и́ли творо́г с варе́ньем (yogurt or cottage cheese with jam), бутербро́д с колбасо́й с сыром (sandwich with salami and cheese), and something to drink like чай и́ли компо́т (tea or kompot).
Some kindergartens are open till 6 or 7 in the evening, but most parents pick up their kids right after work around 5.
All of these things happen, of course, thanks to the great care, commitment, and hard work of those who run kindergartens. Along with the teacher(s) (some kindergarten groups will have two teachers either working in shifts or together), there are also повара (cooks), медсёстры (nurses), учи́тель хо́ра и́ли му́зыки (choir or music teacher), and охра́нники (groundskeepers/security).
And since September 27th is День воспита́теля и всех дошко́льных рабо́тников в России (Kindergarten Teachers’ and Workers’ Day in Russia), this post goes out to all the wonderful teachers and workers of kindergartens that love and care for our children and create some of the most heart-warming memories that we can look back on for years to come!