Teaching English to kindergarteners is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) things I have ever done in my life. Prior to venturing on this adventure to teach English in Thailand, I was excited at the chance to be an educator to five-year-olds. I figured honestly, how hard can it be to teach five-year-olds their shapes and colors and count to ten. First mistake! Teaching English is hard, English is a hard language to learn. Teaching five-year-olds is harder. Teaching them to do anything is hard – no matter the language. These tiny little humans are learning everything for the first time. The amount of information they learned from our time together at school, is about the same as a number of lessons I learned throughout the year.
7 Lessons I Learned from Teaching Kindergarten in Thailand
- Don’t go in with the mindset that it is going to be easy. Because it isn’t. If you are embarking on an adventure to teach your native language to others REMEMBER just that. English is your native language, it has been spoken to you since you were in the womb, you grew up hearing it before muttering your first syllables. Your students (especially kindergarteners) haven’t heard much of the English language and are starting from the very beginning much like you in the womb.
- Patience. Patience. Patience. You were once five, you once didn’t know how to count to ten or tie your shoe or use the bathroom. When doing anything with smaller humans you always need to remind yourself to take a breathe and find your patience.
- Repeat everything. What? Repeat everything! Huh? REPEAT EVERYTHING! You say it, they say it, you say it, they say it. Teach the same word or content for one straight week. Just repeating it over and over and over again.
- Songs. Music. Videos. The internet. They are lifesavers. If your classroom is spiraling out of control, show a video. If you are trying to get them to learn words about the weather, sing a song. I am sure there is a study out there that proves the benefits of learning context to musical notes. Because to this day, I can still remember the words to: “How’s the weather?” and “Peanut Butter Jelly” and I guarantee so do my students. Super Simple Songs is a great place to start.
- GAMES. GAMES. GAMES. Honestly, this partakes to every level of language or study or subject at any age. Games make learning fun it is as simple as that.
- USE THEIR ENERGY. Kids have A LOT of energy, like a lot of it. I have no idea where they get it. But use it to your advantage. It’s like a mini workout for you as well. Go outside, make the ABC’s a running game. Or learn to count to ten by jumping.
- BE GOOFY. GET SILLY. If there was ever a point in your life where you would not be judged for acting like a nincompoop, it is now. Let your guard down, be silly, throw your hair around, belt out your voice, channel your imagination and use it.
Sometimes in life, we forget to just stop and just be. To look at the clouds and let your imagination decide, color the sky green, the trees purple and make cats sing and fly; mostly just, to appreciate the smaller things in life. As we grow in age and society, I think a lot of you forget. Forget to realize how much we take for granted in life. We forget to just say thank you or hello or a smile. Kindergarteners, little five-year-old human beings are a good reminder for that.