Since I am writing my historical posts in random order, not following the chronological sequence of events, I didn’t write anything about Igor’s childhood. Not trying to squeeze in one paragraph all his first seven-year of life, I will mention here that when Vlad and Anna were born, he was about to turn six and was attending a kindergarten. I already mentioned that the Soviet and later Russian educational system was very different from the American. At Igor’s time, children would start school when they were seven or were going to turn seven in September (some exceptions were allowed). The school would go from the first to the tenth grade, and all educational establishments for children younger than seven were called Kindergartens. In the Soviet Union and during the early years of Russia, there was no private daycare, and all kindergartens were parts of the state educational system. Inside a kindergarten, groups for children under three were called “nursery groups,” three-year olds were attending “junior groups,” four-year-olds – “middle groups,” five-year-olds – ” senior groups,” and six-year-olds – “preparatory groups.” The latter would be an equivalent of the US kindergarten.
Igor had a vision disability, and inclusion was unheard of in the Soviet Union. Starting from the age of two, he attended a specialized kindergarten for children with visual disabilities. I had no choice there, and I was fortunate that one of those kindergartens was situated just seven minutes walk away from our home. We were even luckier that this kindergarten had two groups for children with severe vision disabilities, and when Igor was four, he started to attend one of those groups. That was a real blessing – since there was no inclusion nobody would address his specific needs otherwise.
Next year, he had to start school. Once again, since there was no inclusion, he had to go to one of two boarding schools for children with visual disabilities. Luckily for us, that school was undergoing some repairs- remodeling, and the dorms were closed. That meant that for the time being, all students had to go home for the night.
At the same time, the students were still entitled to receive a full board, which included four meals a day, so their day was officially over at 7PM. Even if we were allowed to take Igor home before dinner, I wouldn’t do that because the food was still scarce. Add to this the commute time (no cars, only public transportation). You will see that a seven-year-old was supposed to leave the house at 7 AM and come back at 8 PM or even 9 PM, immediately go to bed and leave after waking up.
During Igor’s first grade, my mom was taking him to school and picking him up. Later, it became a part of my daily routine. When Igor was in the third grade, the remodeling was finally over, and he stayed at school from Monday morning till Friday afternoon.
I have very few pictures of his time at school. Nobody bothered to take pictures there. I have only that one taken by the last teacher he had in the boarding school. She was a great teacher and a wonderful person. We’ve communicated for a while after we left for the US, and I am very sorry that we got out of touch. Looking at that picture, you can see how much she loved her students.
The other two were taken in the sanatorium, a kind of a forest school, where the kids would stay for a month at a time. It was considered to be very beneficial for the children’s health to stay in the countryside for a month, and the school would send the whole class at a time.
My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.