So far Patrick is really enjoying kindergarten. At first he was going to and from school on the bus, but that meant he was spending an hour on the bus in the morning and another hour on the bus in the afternoon, even though we live only 15 minutes from the school. The days were just too long for Patrick, so we cancelled the bus and hired our own driver. While not too many five-year-olds have their own driver, in Paraguay somehow a private chauffeur is cheaper than the shared school bus, and of course it saves time. Now Patrick only spend 15-20 minutes in the car each way. Win-win!
Patrick is having fun, making friends, and is in an after-school soccer league twice a week. He often comes home from school and tells Danny about all the fun and new and different things he’s doing and learning. Danny is feeling a bit left out and jealous, and in response he has invented a few new and exciting things at his preschool too. After Patrick told us that his school has a big library, a nice gym, and a fun reading room, Danny told us that his preschool just opened those things too, drawing a quick response from Patrick. “No! He’s a liar! I went to Danny’s school and I know they don’t have those things. Danny is making things up!” Even though Danny may get a little jealous, he is also benefiting and learning quite a bit from Patrick who loves teaching Danny everything he’s learning – letters, numbers, phonics, and math. Danny is just as excited as Patrick about the new things they are both learning.
Patrick is assigned homework every Thursday, due back at school the following Thursday. He likes his assignments and he takes his homework seriously. He often tries to get everything done in the first few days just to make sure it will be on time. He told me, “Mom, did you know that kids can be fired from school if they don’t do their homework? So far two kids in my class have already been fired.” No wonder the poor kid is anxious to get his homework done on time!
Kevin does not yet see the value of books as something more than a chew toy, but Danny loves looking at the library books which Patrick proudly shares. Danny and Patrick are both learning how important it is to take care of books.
Recently Patrick’s school hosted a Folklore Day celebration honoring Paraguayan culture. Patrick was very excited and happily wore his Paraguayan outfit and practiced his dance for us before heading to school that morning.
The folklore program began with the singing of the Paraguayan and American national anthems. There were three narrators for the show – one in English, one in Spanish, and one in the indigenous language of Guarani.
The show included performances from all the elementary classes, with each grade wearing a slightly different variation of the traditional Paraguayan clothes. (By the way, the long braids worn by the girls are in most cases a purchased accessory and not their own hair.)
Finally it was time for Patrick’s class to do their dance.
They did a great job!
The preschool students went next and were especially cute.
The students who danced with a water jug balanced on their heads were impressive.
The teachers danced last.
After the show, Brian and I were chatting with Patrick’s teacher who told us that Patrick is doing well, speaks great Spanish, and is very social. His social skills, she speculated, are probably the result of having so many siblings. I told her that Patrick has two younger brothers and she was surprised. She said, “Oh I thought he had 4 sisters and 4 brothers. That’s what he drew in his family picture and what’s he’s told us several times.”
That night, Brian and I asked Patrick about his family picture drawing. The top row, he explained, are the boys in our family. The first two are Kevin in Brian’s arms, followed by Danny and two more brothers who haven’t been born yet and Patrick, the biggest brother, is last. The bottom row in the picture, Patrick told us, are the girls in the family. I am first, followed by four daughters who have not been born yet. Phew! I’m exhausted just looking at the picture, and thinking that I’ll be having six more kids!
Recently Patrick’s school had the day off and Danny’s preschool did not. So Patrick went back to preschool for the day with Danny. The boys were really excited about this and couldn’t wait to get home and tell us all about it. They had a lot of fun together!
So far so good with kindergarten!