Infantil: Nursery students
Age range: 3-5 years old
Group 1: 3 years old
Group 2: 4 years old
Group 3: 5 years old
Classroom Size: 23-26 students
Classroom dynamics: The students usually will sit in groups of 4- 6 around tables. The tables may have their names taped to the desks. This is very helpful when dealing with large groups of students. For example in my school I have 2 groups of 3 years old classes, and the same for the 4 and 5 year olds. So let’s say that about 300 nursery students that I meet with every week. That’s a lot of names to try to remember!
Do you remember your days in nursery school? Yea…I don’t really remember either! But here in Spain the classrooms have a colorful and whimsical feel. You will see a blackboard or a smart board or both (my school uses both in most of the classrooms). There are loads of posters and pictures on the walls, with toys, books, games, stuffed animals littered everywhere. It’s reminiscent of the aisles of Toys R US on black friday.
Teaching: Let’s break down teaching nursery students by age groups.
Starting with the 3 year olds.
If you are thinking it’s probably difficult to work with toddlers (are they classified as toddlers?) then you are correct! Well in my experience it has been anyway. I find it hard to teach them English when I can barely understand what they are saying in Spanish. Actually I can’t really understand what this age group is saying in English in their baby slurred syllables and made up words.
“Teeechaa..me pueeedo toiwelet peaweesuh?”
huh?…Yea you figure that one out!
But normally a good indicator that my 3 year olds need to use the toilet is by smell. Yup! Be prepared for “pee-pee” and “cac-cac” accidents. Their teachers are always pissed off, when the students mess themselves and just sit in it.
“Tu no dijo nada!” – Famous last words 🙂
My favorite are the “taddle tales” who run up to the teacher to let her know that “so and so” just pee all over the floor OR had a poopie explosion in the bathroom.
My school prefers that I use a combination of flash cards for vocabulary pronunciation, story telling with puppets, drawing and songs. The main thing to remember with this age group is to MIX IT UP!
This is muy importante!
Why? Because they are only 3 year olds and their attention span lasts for about 15 seconds. With my school the main English teacher for the nursery students writes up a short lesson. I have no experience with this age group so this is necessary.
And seriously…don’t be afraid to ask for help if and when you need it!
Lesson Plan Example: (this is an actual lesson)
Class time: 30 minutes
First 5 minutes
Hello Song: Sing with the children
What’s your name ( Ask each student to say their name)
How are you today? (Ask each student)
What’s the weather like today?
Flashcards: Colors, unit vocabulary, numbers
Demonstrate lesson activity (various depending on unit theme)
Do lesson with students
If time remains read story cards with puppets
Goodbye song (sing with students)
Say bye-bye to students
As you can see the lesson with this group is pretty straight forward.
The 4 and 5 year olds.
The first five minutes are pretty much the same in all three groups. But the lessons vary based on what they are learning in each unit of their books. And of course 5 year olds are a bit more advanced than the 4 year olds but their classroom behavior is also vastly different.
The four year olds I’ve noticed are still busy bodies and will find every opportunity to jump out their seats. Whereas the 5 year olds are a bit ( a tiny bit) calmer and will sit still and listen to the instructions for the lesson.
Since the students are learning the language using a ton of body language and pictures are really helpful when explaining activities. The activities that the students at my school do in their other classes are really fun and engaging. So learning English should follow suit.
They do so many interesting projects like create giant model dragons when learning about China, make Playdoh animals, recreate medieval markets. And they even made teepees when learning about Native Americans.
One of the most important points to remember above all is that you are a language assistant….an auxiliary. You are NOT the TEACHER.
You are there to assist the teacher with speaking and pronunciation (And I would also say function as a cultural ambassador). So you shouldn’t teach the classes alone. NEVER….EVER….EVER!!!!
ESPECIALLY NOT INFANTIL CLASSES.
This age group can be really great to work with once you remember to just have fun. They surely will have you laughing and awkwardly hmming their cute classroom songs in the checkout line at Mercadona. Or freak you out about lice outbreaks!
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by a great team of teachers. Whenever I have a problem or bad day, remembering that it could be worst and that I have support cheers me up quickly.
And besides the children are really sweet …when they want to be >__< .
I hope this gives you a taste of life teaching nursery students. Just remember this is my experience and yours
may will be different!