My Tuesday mornings begin in a town 11 kilometers away from Sokolov- Chodov. I start bright and early at 8am with two 20 minute kindergarten lessons. The very first lesson is always a bit of a system shock having to smile, sing, dance, entertain and move about in silly ways to keep 5 and 6 year olds entertained. Occasionally the teachers bring in some of the kids a bit early and I entertain them by having them monkey some stretches: arms up and reach, touch your toes, and other random stretches that keep them focused on me and help wake me up. These kids are the very beginners, never ever having heard English before me. They are rather amusing and sometimes useless…but who wouldn’t be at that age being thrown into a room with a stranger who smiles and doesn’t understand a word you say.
The second group in this kindergarten is the “advanced group”. This just means that they have had a previous English course, it doesn’t actually mean they know more, just that they have had a lesson and should know some words (although they are usually just as confused as the beginners, if not as frightened of me).
One particular morning I had finished with both groups, had lined the kids up and had just opened the door into the main classroom, when the teacher looked at me, looked at a little girl sitting on the ground and started yelling at her about having forgotten to go to English! Yes, it is the 5 year olds responsibility to know she is to go to English lessons. The teacher then looked at me, put her hands together in a pleading motion, and blathered at me in Czech. From her gesticulations, the one or two words I understood and knowing that this child’s mother had gotten angry at the school for them forgetting to take her into the English lesson before, I figured she wanted me to give the girl an English lesson. I turned around and marched her and the other children back into the classroom to sing random songs and dance for five minutes. That is all that I could manage with my time frame and honestly all I felt obliged to do, seeing that it really had nothing to do with me.
I must admit, I was rather annoyed with the teacher expecting me to go and teach the kids for any more time than I was supposed to. I realize she doesn’t understand the tight schedule, nor realize that I tend to keep the students a few minutes longer anyway, just because the 20 minutes speeds by.
Just this semester, I was finally given attendance sheets for my classes. This means that I am now able to see when the Kindergarten teachers bring in random students, which they do on occasion. I also get the sinking suspicion that some of the students on the attendance sheet have never been brought into the lessons. It all seems rather a mess to me. I have also gained a few new students, which just slows the whole class down.
It is nice how easily entertained kindergarteners can be by a silly face and the “stand up” “sit down” routine. I cannot imagine trying to keep a child that ages attention for more than 20 minutes though. I guess that is why teachers invented nap time.