Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Day At Kindergarten

Yesterday I got to teach at a kindergarten. Though I spent more time just playing with the kids than actually teaching. My schedule even had "play outside" written on it. Awesome. :)

I arrived at the kindergarten around 8:00 but the kids didn't start arriving until a little before 8:30. Once they started arriving I went out in the hall and greeted some of them that were running around and playing. Most of them were pretty shy at first and just stared at me. However, one boy ran up to me and grabbed my hand and dragged me up the steps. Then he dragged me back down the steps... then back up again...

Soon I had a meeting with the teachers. Like at most Japanese meetings I didn't understand most of what was said. I understood the most important part for me though and understood the times I was supposed to teach each class.

I didn't teach my first class for about another hour so I went to the five year old class and played with them (it was raining so we didn't actually get to play outside). They were still shy but I did manage to get a few of them to say hello to me. Many of them were sitting at a table folding origami. I pointed to some of the things they had folded and said what they were in English, such as "heart" and "star." Then when I started folding a crane that really got their attention. After just a couple folds they all knew what I was making.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to teach. First I got them to say "hello" and "good morning." As a class they were much more eager to speak English. Then we sang a hello song. Then I taught them the names of colors in English. A few students already seemed a little familiar with the English color names, but most of them didn't seem to know any of the colors. One student in particular was really good at English for his age. When the other students said, "White-o" he turned around and said, "Noooo! White!" I wonder how he's learning English because it's working very well!

After teaching them the names of the colors it was time for a color game! We played a common Japanese childrens' game called Iro Oni. I played music and the children danced around. When I paused the music they had to freeze and I would yell out a color. They had to run and find something in the room with that color and touch it.

They had a lot of fun with the game! Before lunch one of the boys from the class got on the intercom and talked about English class and I heard him say that Iro Oni was fun. :)

Next I taught the three year old class. The lesson was only fifteen minutes. It's probably good that it was only fifteen minutes because it was tough to keep their attention for even that long. When I first walked into the room a couple kids were already crying and many of them seemed distracted by their parents (it was a special day that they have three times a year when the parents come and watch the classes). I also sang the hello song with them and then I taught them animals. I'm not sure if they really learned the names of the animals, but they had fun running and jumping around acting like the different animals.

Then I taught the four year olds. I did the same things with them as I did with the five year olds. After that I went back to the five year old class for lunch time!

When I went back to the classroom they were not shy around me anymore. They were all pulling on me and trying to get me to sit at their tables during lunch. Two boys were arguing over who I would sit with. They played janken (paper, rock, scissors) to decide. The loser accused the winner of cheating and then they began punching each other and another little boy quickly jumped in between them and pushed them apart. One boy started crying. I thought it was pretty amusing, and so did the teacher.

I ended up sitting at a table with three girls and a boy. The two girls next to me were super talkative even though I didn't understand most of what they said. They didn't seem to understand that I don't know Japanese. They looked very confused when I didn't understand them. Though I did understand some of what they said. They talked about Heartcatch Precure, which is a popular girls' anime right now.

I figured I might as well put a picture of it. It's cute! Plus, this post needs pictures!

Anyways... the lunch was very good! I had a cheese sandwich, some soup with meatballs and carrots and potatoes, asparagus with little bits of ham, and pears. I don't usually like asparagus at all, but it was actually pretty good. Though several of the students didn't want to eat it. They're supposed to eat all their food. The teacher tried to get them to all finish their food. One little boy kept putting the asparagus in his mouth and then spitting it out. Another kid was just licking it.

After lunch they all brushed their teeth while the teacher played some really cheesy sounding song.

Then it was time for more playtime. I read stories to them. They kept bringing me books and asking me to read to them. I looked at the pictures and made stuff up. I also made stuff out of clay with the kids and had several of them dragging me around to show me pictures they were drawing. The boy who was good at English pointed at a lot of things and said what they were... mostly animals and food but it was pretty impressive!

At the end of the day they all sat at their desks and the teacher reviewed the day with them. She said various names of colors in Japanese and got them to say the English names. I could definitely tell a difference from the beginning of class that morning. So I think they actually learned something. Then a student went up front to lead the formal phrases they say at the end of class. It was the boy who was good at English. When they were supposed to stand he actually said "stand up" in English!

I followed the students to the front of the school where the parents came to pick them up. As the parents came and the students left, I said "sayonara" and then gave a high five and said, "goodbye!"

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