|During the time of the
Soviet system, there were two kinds of pre-school institutions:
crèche (in Russian the same word as crib), for children from two
months to three years old, and nursery school (kindergarten, for
children from three to about six years old (though the upper
limit varied in different époques).
At the time of the photograph, the teachers (mistresses--always
female) and the children all wore overalls (usually the
mistresses' white, the children dark blue satin) over their
clothes. You see on the photo small flags. They were red, as
were the state flag and all the flags during that time. They
were used by children when they were marching or doing
exercises. In the
kindergarten the children had a dancing hour and prepared with
the mistresses some performances for the state fests such as the
Great October Revolution, 1 May, the international day of
solidarity for the workers all over the world.
Lenin and Stalin were beloved leaders, as well as some military
heroic leaders (the names changed with time). The most loved
were Voroshilov and Budenny (most of the others ended up in
prison [camp] or were executed).
The education was impregnated with political
themes, though the children also learned poetry and dances and
played with each other, and were developed there in
preparation for school. There were usually three groups in the
kindergarten--younger, middle and higher. Each group contained
about twenty children. The children were brought to the nursery school early
in the morning and would remain there as late as seven in the
After dinner they usually took a nap (a so-called "dead hour").
They had to stay in the kindergarten the whole day. They were
fed three times a day: breakfast, dinner and an afternoon snack
(something light) after their nap.
During the summer the children were
usually taken out of town to live in the
country. The parents could visit the children one or two
times during this summer period on the special Parents' days
(usually one or two in the season), spend some time with them on
There was a tradition--before sending the children to the summer
house, the parents were asked to help, i.e. to come to the
resort where the children were staying and and clean the
house in which the children lived in and also the surrounding area. The men
could also be useful by making repairs. This was not obligatory and wasn't
especially difficult.. The parents came with the
entire family, i.e. with other their children. It was like a
"breath of fresh air", a form of relaxation-work done in a
communal fashion made people more friendly.
The whole event was called "Subbotnik", from Subbota - Saturday.
The "Subbotniks," free-of-charge work done during one's free
time, was very common in the Soviet state.
For children who were in a weakened condition, and for those
with specific diseases, there was also the sanatoria, available
for very low price or free of charge.
There were also groups for children who remained in the
kindergarten the entire week and slept there.
The kindergartens were very important institutions because many
working, and sometimes places for their children in the
kindergarten were lacking. The fee they had to pay for their
child to attend school was not very high and probably depended
on the wages of the parents.