The past couple of weeks I have been working in a Spanish play school, attempting to teach Spanish kids English. A task much easier said than done. There are five age groups: 4-5, 6-7, 7-8, 8-9, and a teenage group, and I work with group one, 4-5 year olds. It has been interested to observe the differences between the children I’ve worked with in the States and the children I’m working with here. The children here show me much more affection in a public place. They hold my hand, crawl on my lap, grab my arms, touch my hair, even after only knowing me for a couple of hours. They also demand a lot more attention. In class I may be working one on one with a child who needs extra help, yet if another child wants help they will walk up and throw their work in your face. On an average day I will have between 4-10 kids around me all demanding my attention.
There is one little boy in my class and the other teacher and I aren’t sure but we think he may have some developmental disabilities. He is only three, unfortunately there are about 4-6 three year olds in my class, and constantly needs help. He gets over whelmed with loud noises, very concerned about being clean, doesn’t seem to understand face expressions very well, doesn’t usually listen, asks the same question ten times, and doesn’t like new people. Yet, he can be very cuddly, talkative, and a times listen well. However, it is very challenging to have him in a class teaching English. He appears to struggle with Spanish and other ideas such as coloring by number, and always is the first to finish crafts( never done well), and if you put all those things on top if having 15 other 3-5 year olds it’s hard to give him the attention he needs. I really understand and appreciate the trouble teachers have when there is a huge ability range in the classroom. At this point I really think that arranging kids by age is the biggest problem, because age does not mean ability level. Although it has been very challenging, this job has also been very enjoyable and given me many great memories, and I thought I might share a few.
Most of the boys here are very, very, very into futbol. There is one boy in particular, who is also in my class, that takes futbol as life and death. Every day the kids have a half an hour break in between classes, during which a group always plays futbol. They play a very backyard game on a concrete patio, with two tables as goals, and a soft squishy futbol. This does not, however, stop a few boys in my class from bring both shinguards and goalie gloves. Anyways, this little boy, dressed in a red futbol jersey is running around bossing the older kids, and dictating the rules of the game. Half way through the game he makes a goal, which of course means a celebration. Running around like an airplane the little boy goes to slide on his knees, forgetting the ground is concrete. The moment his knees hit the ground his movement halts and his face twists in pain, however you can’t cry right after you make a goal, so the little boy looks around with pain etched in his face, and stands up. Needless to say he never celebrated like that again.
During one of the first recesses, I played with two of the smallest boys in my class. As I was running around chasing them, one of the little boys who has a lot of attitude, turns to me and says, “deja! O digo mi mama”! Which more or less means stop or I’ll tell my mom.
The other day I was in class and one if the little boys finished his artwork on the very hungry caterpillar. This little boy is one of a group of three inseparable friends. The other two boys in the group of friends are two of the best English speakers in the class, and Pablo is often grouped with those two boys, even though he doesn’t know nearly as much. Thus I wanted to work one on one with him, so I asked him to tell me about everything in his picture. As he starts to tell me he puts his knees in my leg( I’m sitting criss cross apple sauce on the floor), and begins to run his hand through my hair. The longer he talks the more he begins to crawl into my lap and rub my head. By the end of the worksheet he was in my lap and my hair told of the intensive head rub I had just received.