I greatly enjoyed my volunteer teaching experience with the KinderAide program in La Peñita this past winter. I had two classes of 5-year-olds once a week. Each class was about 20 minutes in length. During that time we reviewed numbers in English from 1-15, the alphabet, greetings, parts of the body, shapes, names of animals and colors.
Special moments that stand out for me: Seeing a mother passing food in her squeezed fingers through the fence to her child before the morning bell. I’ve seen compassion between the children on the playground. One boy was hit on the hand by a ball and another student laughed. The boy went to the other and showed him his hand and the laughing stopped and a discussion began. I’ve seen maturity in the 5-year-olds that I guess I did not expect. One morning a little girl came into the courtyard where I was sitting on the cement bench, she stopped, thought for a second and said “Good morning” and turned on a dime and proceeded to her classroom. During “Imagination” time, we were all standing tall and proud. We pretended that our arms were flags and we were flagpoles – it turned out we were all Mexican flags, blowing in the wind. Then the wind stopped and all the little arms went down – all at once!
Changes in me: I have never taught English to a group of children before. The children were given the time to hear the language, hear a book being read to them, receive praise in English, follow instructions, and see an English-speaking person’s interest in them as students. I emphasized that Spanish is a language and English is a language – and there are many other languages. I told the students how smart they were because they know the names of colors and numbers in two languages.
What have I learned and how was I inspired: In a nutshell I learned that children really do love stickers! Kids like to get them on their papers or on their hand. Children like to watch you draw cartoons and like your attempt at making animal sounds. My best effort seemed to be a chicken. My “buck-buck-bucks” seem to get them laughing. If you act like your hand is on fire when one of them gives you a “high-five” – that also gets them laughing. It was very enjoyable to watch the children hit the pinata at the Christmas fiesta as well – I never witnessed that before!
From the teaching experience I was inspired to write a children’s book someday. I have a general idea. It came to me when we were studying shapes. It’s rhyming and has a mathematical theme too.
Written by Diane Simser
About the Author: Diane Simser resides in Livingston, Texas for half the year, and the other half in her RV in La Peñita, Nayarit, Mexico.
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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