Coming to Italy, I fell into a job opportunity I just couldn't pass up-- teaching English to preschoolers. It's the dream job! I spend 3 mornings a week playing with kids, and then get to spend the entire afternoon at home with MY kid. Who could ask for anything more?
Today, I hit the one-week mark at my new job, and I realized something... Talking and playing with these little ones, I kept having flashbacks to my days as a high school teacher. Because KIDS ARE KIDS! It doesn't matter if they're 2 or 12! They're all kids!
Now, I know this is not a "new" thing, but it's just so interesting to actually see first hand.
Take this little boy today, for example. Every time I asked the class to repeat a word in English or sing a song in English, he refused to open his mouth or participate in any way. I could barely even get him to crack a smile. And believe me! If you've never seen a pregnant woman singing HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, AND TOES at warp speed, well - it at least deserves a smirk.
Later on I asked him why. His answer: "Because I don't know English." Suddenly light bulbs flashed! Alarms blared! How many times had I seen high school students completely closed up, acting as intimidating as possible, simply because they didn't have the confidence they needed to try?
So I did what I tried to do with those high school kids- I got to know him a little. For him, that meant playing cars. We built a train track. He told me about all the parts of a fire truck (a very difficult conversation for me in Italian!) And while played, we chatted about our families, and his likes and dislikes. It was fun! By the end of "free play", we were buddies.
But here's the miraculous part. Later that day, we were singing another of our English songs and -- cue the fireworks-- that little boy moved his lips!
Now I realize, little kids warm up much more quickly than the older ones, and normally, "playing cars" wouldn't work on a teen. Yada, yada, yada. But the point is, all those same root emotions of fear and embarrassment are exactly the same. And that, to me, is amazing!
Because kids are kids -- and kids are fantastic!