This would be our first day at the preschool in Gu’an! We were picked up by Yaya, a teacher at the school and our local driver. The school was a few miles from our residence, and we were met there by Arla. The school’s entrance gate is majestic and imposing! The preschool is called a kindergarten, while at home, children go to kindergarten after they finish preschool.
The first thing I noticed was that the teachers wear uniforms, as do the children. The school and everything in it new, beautiful, and very clean. Arla took us on a quick tour. There were many different classrooms.
Some had desks while others had chairs. I was charmed by a library that had soft lighting, soft cushions, and children’s books printed in Chinese, English, or both languages. I was especially pleased to see books written by Eric Carle. Arla told me he was her favorite children’s author. I knew she and I would become good friends!
In a science classroom, we saw kits containing magnets and other objects. The art room had smocks, easels, paint, markers and crayons. The children’s artwork was displayed on the walls, just as we do.
There was a baking room. It had a mural of bakers on the wall, and the closets were filled with baking supplies. There were aprons and hats for the children to wear. I couldn’t wait to see the children using this room!
Instead of one large outdoor play area, there were many smaller ones. We noticed that one such area had a climbing wall that was appropriate for preschoolers, as well as an obstacle course. We also saw a room in which the teachers ate together. I was thoroughly impressed with everything I saw!
Arla told me there were classes of three-year-olds, four-year-olds and five-year-olds. There were up to 27 children in each class, with a total of 200 students. Soon it was time for Arla to be in her classroom. She is a teacher of Chinese, teaching reading and writing.
We were brought to a room on the uppermost floor, which would be called our “office.” Very soon, our breakfast arrived. On Saturday, Anna had told us that the children were given three meals per day at the school, plus two snacks, and frequent water breaks. I assumed there was a nutritionist planning the meals; I know there was a kitchen staff preparing them. We would be given the same meals as the children and teachers. Our breakfast consisted of a rice porridge, an egg, a bean paste filled bun, and a slice of spice cake. What fun!
Anna passed by, inquiring how we were doing, and saying that one of the teachers was absent. They don’t have substitutes, so when someone is absent, the children are divided among other classes. We had thought we would be making our power point presentation today, but we were told that unfortunately, Headmaster Chen was not available, so we would be doing that tomorrow. We were disappointed, but these things happen.
At lunch time we were each brought a tray containing two chicken legs, a green vegetable, and rice. The mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks were cherry tomatoes. The main course at dinner was a combination of chicken, mushrooms, and tomatoes served with rice, with cookies for dessert. Dinner is served at 4:30 PM, because the children are dismissed for the day at 5 PM.