How I teach the Kids
by Kevin Burns
When I teach English to young children I try to imagine that I am a father figure to them–which of course I am. I am warm and try to kneel down to their level. I am very tall so can be intimidating if I stand over them. We are all giants to very young children, and need to build their trust.
If the kids feel okay with it, I sometimes pick them up and point out new vocabulary as I hold them. The other kids are watching and listening (and learning). Week after week I do this and there comes a day when the kids say what the thing is before I can. That day is always rewarding.
I act like a big kid and play games with them. The most important thing in all your teaching I feel is fun. The students should have fun and you too should have fun.
*(If I ever get in a rut in my teaching I find an activity that I think is fun, then inevitably it is fun for the students too.)
Mothers know that fun is very, very important. It seems to go with being a mother. They know if their young children are having fun, they are learning and will want to learn more. Often their first question to their children after class is:
“Did you have fun?”
Yet you need to combine fun with teaching English. Some teachers forget this at their peril.
Bring Me Activity
One activity I do is to pre-teach 7-10 vocabulary cards then have the kids hide them around the room, or weather permitting–outside.
When all the cards are hidden I say:
“Bring me a __dog.”_ etc.
When I am handed the card I say “Thank you.”
Sometimes the students enjoy being the teacher and they tell the others what to bring. If you allow the parents to participate in your classes you can get them involved too.
We do this until all the cars are found. (Sometimes some of the cards are not found ever–or are found very soggily three years later.
It is amazing what can grow on an English vocabulary card if you leave it out in the Japanese weather long enough!)
*It is a good idea to have a set of cards that you use only inside and one for outside.
TEFL Young Children — Get into the Head of the Child
What does that child in front of you like to do. What games and activities does he or she enjoy?
Does she enjoy puzzles? Does he enjoy drawing pictures?
Does she enjoy listening to stories or looking at picture books. All of these activities have some teaching opportunities within them–not only for English but for social skills and practical knowledge.