I have known Jane for quite a few years so when she posted that there was a position available to help out at KinderAide for one hour a week I thought I was (or should be!) up to the challenge. Off I went to kinder with Kate – an experienced, qualified, exuberant teacher. Now I was feeling apprehensive. As a 50 year old, childless healthcare worker I was totally out of my element.
The kinder I attempted to help out is a fairly wealthy kinder with exceptional teachers. I really like the way that no child had their own pencils, paints, etc. When needed, these items were all divvied up and used equally. The kids enjoyed PE (my favourite), English with a totally qualified Mexican teacher, Lourdes, and learned to read and write at a young age. Kinder in Mexico starts at age 4… these are really little kids and scared me to death!
Our group of kinder volunteers also shared resources – puppets, teaching aids, etc. that really helped me in my 4-15 minute English reinforcement classes per week. My favourite activities were when I could help the qualified teachers with activities, not try and teach myself. I assisted with craft class, went on Posada. These activities I felt useful. As for teaching English I was a complete failure as I don’t have the ability to deal with 20 four year olds. Like herding cats. Except I am good with cats (another story). The five year olds were much easier and I think I may have been less useless teaching them.
I really enjoyed getting to know the teachers, school moms and principal. I now consider them friends in our small town. When the kids yell out “hola maestra” I feel like an imposter!
I would love to help out at one of the smaller schools; I do speak a bit of Spanish. The school I was at needs someone who is mostly bilingual and used to being around large groups of little kids – or at least a mom or grandma!
One thing that upset me at all the kinders was what Jane calls the “wall of shame.” This has the names of families that cannot pay their monthly kinder fees – at my kinder $50 pesos per month, at the poorer ones as low as $20 pesos.
I plan to hit up a few of my x-ray co-workers to cough up a few bucks to maybe alleviate this fee for a few families. It is such a small amount. I will bring down a few stickers, pencils, crayons etc. for the kinder’s collective use, but I need most of our space for Cancer de Mama bras, boobs, and JBAR spay and neuter medical supplies that I just can’t bring stuffies. Rob would freak!
I love our tiny little town and love being part of our community.
Written by Heather Erickson
About KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows. It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more, visit the KinderAide community webpage.
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