• December 5, 2013
  • 54

The presentation of Polish kindergartens

© Marian Paluszkiewicz

As we mentioned in previous articles, on Wednesday, 4th December in the House of Polish Culture (HPC) in Vilnius two important events took place at the same time. At the HPC’s stage children from Polish kindergartens in Vilnius District Municipality, Šalčininkai District Municipality and Vilnius showed their acting abilities as a part of X jubilee festival “Bajeczki z przedszkolnej półeczki” organized traditionally by “Schools Mothercountry” – an association of teachers working in Polish schools in Lithuania.

Meanwhile, in HPC’s hallway there was the I Polish Kindergartens’ Forum of Vilnius city. It was coorganised by Vilnius city councillors from Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL) Party. Parents, who arrived in large numbers, could not only admire their offspring on stage but also get acquainted with offers of numerous Vilnius kindergartens that teach in the Polish language.

– The I Polish Kindergartens’ Forum of Vilnius city is a wonderful event and a great step towards the kind of future we must and can have. The fact that you are in this room means that the project we developed with “Schools Mothercountry” is a great idea. – the administrative deputy director of the Vilnius Municipality from EAPL Party – Danuta Narbut – opened the meeting. – We face everyday problems all the time. I hope that together we will make our kindergartens the biggest and the best.

Municipality worker’s stand attracted a lot of parents’ attention. – The parents were especially interested in the admission procedures to the Vilnius kindergartens, they asked about Polish groups near their place of residence, and they also inquired about particular kindergartens – said Danuta Juškienė – a representative of the Vilnius Municipality and a senior specialist in early childhood education in the education section of the department of education, culture and sport of Vilnius Municipality.

Such a meeting was needed also because of the changes in the procedures of admission to kindergartens – last year this system was centralised in Vilnius.

– Parents applying for a place in a kindergarten can go to Vilnius Municipality personally or fill a form on the www.vilnius.lt website. After giving all the necessary information parents can choose up to five institutions – explains Danuta Juškienė.

Submissions for 2014 will be accepted from 2nd January until 30th April. The rules of children’s admissions will also be accessible on the website. Kindergarten groups will be formed in May. The process is centralised so applying to the kindergarten’s principle is not necessary. If, for some reason, there appears a vacant place in a particular kindergarten, it is automatically given to the first child on the waiting list to this institution.

– The idea of organising  the I Polish Kindergartens’ Forum of Vilnius city is not new. Similar initiatives, such as High schools’ or primary schools’ forums were already taking place ten years ago. – commented Józef Kwiatkowski, the chairman of “Schools Mothercountry” during the interview. – City councillors from EAPL were the initiators of this forum. We wanted to enable the Polish kindergartens to present their attainments to as many parents as possible.

On Wednesday in HPC 17 out of 28 Vilnius kindergartens offering Polish groups were represented. It was difficult to fit all the stands, colourfully presenting the every-day life of the pupils and their caretakers, in the hallway. Every kindergarten had something unique to offer but they were all united in creating conditions in which children from Polish families can grow up safely, surrounded by their mother tongue.

Apart from the opportunities to communicate in Polish, the kindergartens make sure children develop properly in a variety of ways. For example, the Vilnius kindergarten and school “Saulutė” in Žvėrynas, situated in a picturesque, wooded place, creates special groups for children suffering from illnesses of the upper respiratory tract such as bronchitis, asthma or recurrent pneumonia. A paediatrician looks after the children and assigns massages or physical therapy if needed. As Anna Rumiancewa – the kindergarten’s housemistress said, in “Saulutė” there are groups from 1st to 4th grade of primary school with Lithuanian, Russian and Polish language as a medium of instruction.

The pedagogical vice-principal of Vilnius Middle-School in Lazdynai, Margarita Jankuniec was very pleased with the opportunity to present her kindergarten during the Forum: – The problem is that for some parents our name, with the ”middle-school” part, can be misleading. Our kindergarten is only starting to develop, this is our second year, and not all parents know that they can send their children here. Our kindergarten was created from the former primary school in  Liudvinavas which after a reorganization merged with the school in Lazdynai.

Currently, there are 3 kindergarten groups in the Middle-School in Lazdynai (128, Liudvinavo street) but the headmaster has a positive attitude and ambitious plans to create a strong, high-standard institution with at least 6 kindergarten groups, especially that the material conditions are very favourable.

Vilnius kindergarten and school “Zielone Wzgórze” is the only one – in Naujoji Vilnia – teaching only in Polish. As Leokadia Skarżyńska – the kindergarten’s housemistress sais, there exist 6 Polish-language groups: – We admit children from the age of three. They have the luxury of not having to change their surroundings because when they become old enough they can go to the 1st class in the same school.

It is similar in the kindergarten and school “Vilija” where children begin their education at the age of three and finish it after the fourth grade of primary school without the stresses of changing their environment.

Institutions such as: a kindergarten and nursery school “Aušrinė”, “Kluczyk”, “Kasztan”, “Vėjelis”, “Ramunėlė” took part in the I Polish Kindergartens’ Forum of Vilnius city. All of the kindergartens offer a rich curriculum, which includes learning Lithuanian (some kindergartens devote 4 hours a week to learning the country’s official language). Additionally the children can learn Russian or English. A speech-language pathologist, a psychologist, a dietician and a nurse are available for the pupils and their parents. There are sport sections including basketball, karate, and a Vietnamese martial art called “Niat-Nam”. The parents can also choose among a variety of dance and art classes. Long story short: there are many options.

However, getting admitted to the chosen kindergarten may cause some problems. Unfortunately, there are more applications than we have places. The groups are overcrowded (sometimes there are even 25 pupils). Admitting more children is not an option because for one group there is only one caretaker with an assistant.

– We’re doing whatever we can – assured Danuta Juškienė. – For example, we managed to open 2 additional Polish groups in the kindergarten “Uśmiech”. The building of a new kindergarten in Santoryszki district has just began – it is planned to be completed in 2015. In general, we managed to open around 30 groups this year – a couple of them Polish.

During the meeting in HPC the parents could also talk to a child psychologist and a speech-language pathologist.

– I’m trying to break the stereotype that turning to a psychologist is not normal  – told Agnessa Asajevičienė – a psychologist working in the Lazdynai Middle-School. – Sometimes it is better to make sure your child is healthy.

Very often the children’s problems are based on the fact that they don’t have someone to share their troubles with, they simply need a normal conversation. Some children suffer from a difficult family situation and cannot turn to their parents. That’s when a psychologist can cooperate with parents to help their child.

– Children very often have emotional problems, they’re in a bad mood, they have troubles communicating with their peers, they miss classes. – said Agnessa Asajevičienė. – There are cases of depression among 14 or 15-year-olds.They may be caused, for example by one of the parents going abroad. Children are prone to accusing themselves. That is why sometimes a simple conversation, convincing them that they are not guilty of anything, is helpful.

On Wednesday, the parents admiring the performances during the festival “Bajeczki z przedszkolnej półeczki” could see for themselves how talented and creative their children are, how confident they feel on stage, how they present the stories they prepared with their caretakers speaking in perfectly proper Polish.

17 kindergartens performed on the stage: 2 from Šalčininkai District Municipality, 6 from Vilnius District Municipality, and 9 from Vilnius. As a reward, after the performances the children received candy, books and diplomas from Santa Claus. The kindergartens also received rewards, accordingly to their needs (which they had declared earlier), financed by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius and the Association “Polish Community”.

– Nowadays parents are mostly educated people who rest their hopes in their children and search for the best schools for them but they make a big mistake by signing them up, for example, to kindergartens with Lithuanian as a medium of instruction. – said Józef Kwiatkowski.

– I would say that it is very harmful for children because during such an important stage of development children must be in an understandable and familiar linguistic environment, must communicate in their mother tongue, enrich their vocabulary. When children acquire this linguistic basis, when they start using their mother tongue naturally, they will easily manage to learn a foreign language or maths or the county’s official language.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2013/12/05/prezentacja-polskich-przedszkoli/

Tłumaczenie by Kinga Zinser w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Kinga Zinser within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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