Every Friday I have the chance to go to the Shionoe Kindergarten/Nursery which I really enjoy for a number of reasons. First of all, I have to be there at 9:10am, which means I get almost 40 more minutes to sleep in. Come Friday, my erratic sleep schedule has me so drained that these few extra minutes in bed feel fantastic. It only takes about two minutes to make the drive where I will then wait five more in my car. I generally have to wait a few minutes before Makita Sensei shows up. Once there, we rush off to either the Elephant, Chipmunk, Giraffe, or Rabbit rooms to do our thing. I’m fortunate in that Makita Sensei takes care of everything on the planning front, so I just need to show up and be spunky.
The classes are about 20 minutes each, and we have time for two each week. They pretty much follow the same format from week to week, but it always gets a good response from the kids. The first thing that we always do is the ‘Hello Song’, twice. It is really simple, but spinning, clapping and falling to the ground make for a good morning warm up. I’ll be sure to get a video of it next chance I have.
Next we have to go on to something like a song, flash cards, and sometimes a game. There are a couple games that we keep in our rotation, but one of the most popular is certainly ‘What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?’. I’m sure you can figure it out, but the students ask ”What time?”. Then, they count out however many hours I say with steps until I the wolf declare it ‘LUNCHTIME!!’. Then, I chase them around for a few moments, trying to eat them. It is a simple game that works well to get them using the commonplace English phrase and establishing comfort with the response and basic numbers.
Here you can see it in action.
Here was one other example of a game. For this particular lesson, we practiced some common names of locations. To practice listening recognition, we assigned the teachers and Kanako each a location and had the class run to the correlating person after I said it. Many of the students turn to simply following others, but at least they are having fun.
Every class concludes with a children’s book read in both English and Japanese. Some of these books seem a little dull to me, but the kids really eat it up. After our short story time, we remain sitting while the students line up in front of us. We do a sort of patty-cake hand clap, say goodbye, and then shake their hands around. This has somehow evolved into most of the students trying to push me over. I didn’t always use a chair for this part, but it eventually became a necessity.
The goodbye sequence.
After our two lessons, we go to the office and make nice with the head teacher and office lady. They always serve amazing snacks and coffee which also doubles as my breakfast. After 10-15 minutes or so I need to head over to Yasuhara Elementary for a few more classes. I really enjoy going to the kindergarten because the kids at that age are extremely teachable. While the complexity of English rarely exceeds flash card bombardment and repetition, every student is gung ho about any activity we throw at them. Also, it takes nothing at all to impress and amaze them, so with minimal effort I spend every Friday morning a hero. There are a number of events throughout the year that I am invited to participate in, which is nice. Having fun and maintaining a good relationship with these kids is just an assurance that my 1st and 2nd grade classes will go great in the future. I’m always looking forward to coming to this place. As I said, for a number of reasons it is a bright spot in my schedule and a fantastic way to go into the weekend.