My youngest kid is only 5 years old, and already almost as tall as her 8 year old sister, she has acclimatised to the move across the Atlantic as though it was just another trip to the shops and back. Not a fleeting quiver of hesitation, she’s used to being one step ahead and taking opportunities where she can – based on the aged experience of having to fight her own corner (both literally and metaphorically) with her older 2 sisters. This week has been no exception.
Unlike in the UK, children don’t start school full-time in Canada until they are 6 – which means she’s in Kindergarten (at the school) for half a day, each day. Despite only being half the time, she absolutely loves it and has a superb teacher – who acknowledges it’s only a matter of time before the younger kid will be taking over and running her class. They seem to get through as much in 3 hours as they did in a full day of school back in the UK – they’re reading, sounding words, writing, playing out, learning about space, planets, culture, dancing and making lots of new friends with everyone in her class in the process.
Volunteering plays a heavy part in Kindergarten, and the kids’ home reading programme is managed by parents who volunteer to exchange the class reading books according to the levels and instructions that the teacher has left each day. It’s a great way to get involved, and the kids are loving the books they get – to the extent that the whole approach is around fun and building an enjoyment of reading, rather than ‘how many words can they sound out’ or academically recognise. Likewise, I’ve fully anticipated not just an emphasis on English, but given we are in Canada and with French also an official language, all the kids learning this too. What I didn’t expect was Chinese ……
There’s a large community from Asia and with Chinese New Year celebrations over the past week, Kindergarten has been appreciating and recognising this culture as much as any other. They’ve clearly been learning new Chinese words and as such, my youngest has started to reiterate these at home. It was quite a surprise to even know she knew any words, and not knowing many myself (none to be exact), encouraged her to say a few more. My middle kid was more skeptical about her younger sister’s capabilities and started testing her on some key words – to which her younger sister responded without hesitation. This culminated in my middle kid ‘upping the stakes’ somewhat and posing the following key phrase, ‘could you tell me the way to the nearest bus depot’. The youngest didn’t break sweat, just looked at her older sister with disdain and responded with absolute aplomb and utter seriousness with a phrase in what sounded like Chinese. I spat out my spring roll, burst out laughing and gave her a round of applause – with the rest of us not having a clue whether she was correct or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if she absolutely right …..
For the remaining half of the day, she gets to spend it with me – and for two mornings each week attends a ‘KinderArt Class’ at the local recreation centre. They get to play with paint, pastels, pencils, pottery and all manner of mediums – plus I only have to wash her clothes following her exploits afterwards, rather than the whole kitchen too! She’s been producing some art work and has kindly given permission for all the images in this week’s blog to be used. Not bad for a 5 year old …..
We also had a day off yesterday from school so went to investigate ‘Galaxyland’ – the largest indoor amusement park in the world – at the West Edmonton Mall. Absolutely huge, the size and scale is staggering and having the positive feature of being indoors and undercover (useful, when the climate is sub-zero for the majority of the time), we had a brilliant time. I half expected the youngest to be dubious about the rides, but pouring scorn on the ‘baby and toddler’ rides as ‘being too young and not exciting enough’ (direct quote), she wanted to experience all the rides her older sisters did. Having the advantage of size on her side, she was accepted onto all except the truly hair-raising and adult-only rides – which my oldest kid at only 11yrs, but being taller than me, went on by herself – several times (I had to watch you understand). Only the haunted house had my youngest in sheer terror, but the majority saw cries of glee and complete hysteria, revelling in being thrown up and down the roller coasters at speed.
It’s been a good week. No, a great week. As usual 🙂