Sunday, April 27, 2008

How would you know your kid is learning?

Help me with this because I dont really know. How would you know your kid is learning?

I have this group of kids between 4-6 years old -- who attend playtime English under my tutelage. I am doing this course because I know I would enjoy learning with kids and I am sure that the kids would be enjoying learning with songs and dance and crafts; and also because at the back of my mind, I dont want to loose my 'English.'

The first time I attended a Deutsch course, the teacher told me to forget about my English or else I would have difficulty learning Deutsch. Well, she was right. It was when I stopped translating everything in English that I began to really master (a little bit) the German language. It was not easy, but I managed.

Now, I realized I am beginning to loose my 'English' when I cant even talk one sentence in straight English; and when I am writing a letter, I cant even formulate one single paragraph in straight English without consulting the Deutsch-English dictionary -- but that was two years ago. And that time, I felt bad. Uneasy. As a graduate of AB Journalism, that didnt help my confidence at all. And as someone who wanted to go back to Journalism in the future, that is really terrible!

Most people here were astonished to know that I am doing playtime English; they expected someone from an English speaking country to face them. The Philippines is an English speaking country. I earned by Journalism degree in the Philippines, where most school works are done in English. The language in the school is English, from kindergarten to university. We do speak our native tongue, the Tagalog, but we have only one subject about this; otherwise, we speak and write all our works in English.

And I know, some of us parents have high expectations -- and when I talk with the teachers of my kids, I try to know what they have been doing in kindergarten; if there are improvements and if I should take note of things that should be done for the better of my kids.

Back to my playtime English. This coming week would be the fifth time that the class would be meeting. I have given the parents the program outline. We have even held a meeting before the course began so that any questions would be answered and suggestion taken into consideration. They know the program; I dont mind listening to suggestions and ways that I could do better, things that would be best for the kids and the class -- but I cant create a miracle. In such a short course, the kids would learn some everyday phrases and would be familiar with numbers, colors, etc. I would be happy to hear them speaking in some English words, but to be really fluently speaking in English, that would take time.

What made me ask the question on how would you know that your kids is learning? Just because one mom asked her kid what she learned from English class, the girl simply said 'I dont know.' And she took it as a bad sign. Dont blame me if I dont feel good hearing this. Am I right to hear a little implication that her kid isnt learning at all? Because of that 'I dont know,' answer?

I dont know, too. When I heard about it, I was surprised and a bit lost. I also ask my kids what they did in kindergarten, almost everyday; and most of their answers were 'I dont know.' And I didnt think to push the teachers to watch out for my kids because they dont know what they did in kindergarten. And yet I know that the kids are learning because they sit down to do crafts, to draw, to write, they learn how to socialize, to interact, etc.

I know that particular kid participates well during the class. She's eager to join the group. And she answers when asked. And most of all, she's always an enthusiastic listener and participant. That would mean she is enjoying the course, right? And enjoying the class is the best way to learn. After all, the class is playtime English! We play, we have fun, and we learn slowly and hopefully, surely.

I guess the only way is to talk again to the parent, to the group of parents, if needed. But I want to know, how do you know your kid is learning?


tintin said...

How about videotaping a class one time? Or you can do a daily progress sheet.

Today we did...then we did... etc. etc.

You can personalize it. Say, Student A answered the question __ in english...she participated well..etc. etc.

You could also set daily, weekly, monthly goals. Say in your sheet, this month we are focusing on the alphabet, numbers so the parents can test the kids themselves at the end of the month.

yea, most kids say I don't know when asked open-ended questions.

raqgold said...

wow tintin, thanks for the tips. have you done something like this? the thing is, am doing this more as a volunteer work and the small money i get from them i used for insurance money just in case something happened to the kids during the class -- but might just work on this progress sheet if my kids would give me enough time. i do have a program that i have given to the parents so they could follow up :)

Heart of Rachel said...

I usually ask Yohan what he learned in class on a particularly day. He loves telling me about the story that his teacher told in class. Sometimes he would tell me the story the way he remembered it.

Sometimes, I would just hear him sing a new song or recite a short poem. I like it when he learns about a new word. He would proudly tell me about it and what it means.

raqgold said...

rach, my kids have their days. sometimes they would be telling me non-stop about their days, without me asking; and sometimes they would only say 'i dont know.' am glad johan shares his day with you.

Diary of an Irish Woman said...

Hiya - as a previous teacher - have a daily sheet that you hand parents so they know what the kids worked on. Every kid I know says I dont know when asked what did you learn. This way the parents can help the children practice at home as well. Nursery ryhmes are perfect for playing and learning English - London Bridge is falling down, Ring a Ring a rosey... etc. On daily sheet which you can print out on printer and just cut so small half sheets have the english words to the ryhme or to the colors so the parents can practice and see if their kids remember. Games are fun as children learn quicker when in motion. Other good games are what time is Mr Wolf. The teacher stands at the top of the class. The children ask what time is it? The Wolf/teacher says two o clock and the children take two steps.. 3 o clock etc 3 steps. Then when the children are near the wolf says time to chase you (we say eat you but I dont know how scared kids would be) then wolf chases them back to start. Kids learn this game easily and teaches the numbers in English as well as time. Have fun and I wouldnt worry as much about how proficient the children are becoming. If they dont practice at home then hard to learn from just one class. And also your English is fantastic !

raqgold said...

hi sinead, thanks for the tip. i always provide the kids copies of the rhymes and songs; and games, then i guess i am doing fine. and that game about the wolf, that i would try. and thanks for the pat in the back, i needed that :D

tintin said...

Hi Raquel, no I haven't but my daughter went to daycare and this is what the school did for all the kids who aren't so expressive.

You can pare down the suggestion to whatever you have time for and hopefully the parents would be happy with it. :)

haze said...

Hi Raggold, it's just normal with kids not to remember things because they are still young. With all the activities it's quite confusing. Sometimes parents are excited to hear from them but it will take sometime for the kids to tell them what happened within the day.

Speaking from experience : I did it with S├ębastien when he entered maternelle (kindergaten)I would always asked him "So what did you learn ? What happened today?" etc etc. because I was so overwhelmed of what he was going to say. Bugging them with questions will not help! However sometimes we should also be sensitive of what they feel. It's pretty tiring for this little kids. At times they don't want us to tell what happened because there's so much activities that they cannot even remember even a single thing! Result they get irritated or they will not mind to answer the question! We should let them breath ! In time they will have the initiative to share us what they have learned during the day :D !

The problem doesn't belong to how you teach them neither the kids. Everything has its own perfect timing ;)!

I agree with Tintin video taping is one better way to teach the kids ! One more thing I can advise is thru imaginative play, like drawings and ask them to explain why they choose this drawing, or when they go to class ask them to put costumes and ask why they prefer to dress like one !

Goodluck Raggold and congratulations for doing a good job and being patient with the kids ! It's not easy to be a teacher, hats off !

raqgold said...

tintin - thanks for the info, am actually making time to do this na.

haze - yup, the kids act more with fantasy and games -- thanks for the tips! i experience that with my kids, too - minsan you wont hear anything from them, minsan naman they would fight for attention because they wanted to tell their own stories.