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Advice on Teaching Children

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This is goes out to all the people who teach preschool and early grade school children in Korea (with a special shout out to Tatijana at Koyang SLP). This is not a list of ideas for classroom activities, but a list of ideas on teaching styles.

Most of us know trying to teach English as a second language is hard enough, but trying to teach it to 5-8 year old children is like a tip to the dentist. Before and during the class your stomach is in knots as you wonder what excruciating pain you will have to endure. Then after the class your body goes limp as you relax and think to yourself, "I've survived another one."

So as you're wiping the runny noses and trying desperately to get through to the children, think about these words...

Don't stress; do relax and enjoy - teaching young children is frustrating and stressful. Don't beat yourself up just because the children can't get a grasp of your lesson. Just relax and enjoy their spontaneity and candor.

Don't get mad; do understand - instead of getting angry at a
child for an inappropriate behavior, try to understand why
he or she acted a certain way. It may help you find a
solution to keep it from re-occurring.

Don't punish; do reward - use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. If you use punishment to correct bad behavior, the child will only turn against you.

Don't teach; do inspire - teach is what you do with a classroom of tired, middle-age businessmen. Be an inspiration to young children to learn and think for themselves. Who knows? You may have a future Dae Jung Kim in your class.

Don't correct; encourage - if a child makes a mistake, instead of
saying "that's wrong", try saying "that was good, but let's try it this way".

Don't frown; do smile - frown and the world frowns at you, smile and the world smiles with you.

...and some words about children.

Children tell their mother and father everything. Make sure that the children only have reasons to tell good things to their parents about you.

Children imitate adults. Always show your best for them to
imitate. There is no such thing as a "problem child". A child's bad behavior is almost always learned from watching an adult, especially a teacher. Children don't know any better. Don't blame or punish them for something that they probably don't know is wrong or bad.

Treat every child equally. Children notice favoritism, no matter
how minimal. Try to make everyone feel that they are all equally important.

Treat the children as if each child was your own. You wouldn't want your child being taught by someone grumpy and indifferent. Unlike adults, young children do not want much from you. All they want is your love and attention. Give it to them unconditionally. And who knows? You may not only be making him or her a better person, but you may also be making this crazy world of ours a better place to live. (My indirect
commentary on the event in Jonesboro, Arkansas)

And remeber, the won/dollar exchange rate may not be so great, but there will never be a depreciation in the level of respect for the job you do.

Name: Hooner
Email: rhooner@hotmail.com
Location: Ilsan, Korea

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