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November 26, 2008 11:19 PM   Subscribe

How can I become a better physical education teacher for kindergarten students who don't speak English?

I'm teaching kindergarten at a private school in South Korea. After lunch we have "Activity Time" where the kids break into groups for PE, music, art, and English practice. As the only male foreign teacher, I was made the PE coordinator. I'm actually having fun doing it, but I'd appreciate any constructive criticism as to how I'm doing things. Among the kids, I have separate groups of five, six, and seven year-olds, and I adjust my lesson plans accordingly (the seven year-olds require a lot less in the way of structure and modeling).

The kids come in for roughly 35 minute sessions. We're on the 5th floor of a building, and going outside is not a possibility. However, we have a "gym" with padded floors and walls and a decent amount of padded blocks, ramps, and miniature stairs to build neat little obstacle courses. We also have modular equipment to make small balance beams, hoops to crawl through, and plastic rings to hop to and fro from. I think I've come up with some pretty good activities, but I'm curious as to whether or not I'm over-thinking certain things. I usually set up an activity for about 20-25 minutes, and then let the kids have "free play" where they can pretty much do what they want. This means they'll run around screaming and turning themselves into a sweaty mess before their next activity session. My boss would probably like me to structure the whole activity period, but my co-workers actually would like the kids to get a little crazier with me so that their energy is siphoned off even more before the next class (the parents probably don't mind either). They seem to have more fun playing on their own anyways. Any child development folks who can tell me what I'm doing wrong (or hopefully, right?).

Thanks in advance!
posted by bardic to Education (4 answers total)
I'm not a professional, but as a father of two small kids, I see nothing wrong what so ever in letting them run around like small maniancs for a while.
posted by Harald74 at 12:22 AM on November 27, 2008

I don't know anything myself, but a friend of mine is now studying early childhood education after teaching a similar age group in Japan for about four years. He loves his work and I'm sure he would be happy to talk to you about lesson plans and such - memail me if you'd like me to put you in touch.
posted by jacalata at 12:26 AM on November 27, 2008

I teach English to kids a little older than that (7-9), though they're still absolute (as in, they don't know the word "house" or "car") beginners...here are my tips for sanity:

• Demo your instructions really, really thoroughly. Demo it first between the teacher and one student a few times, then between the teacher and a few students, then get one of the students to demo it to another student, then get them to do it in pairs, THEN turn them loose. Keep asking simple questions about rules: "Can you run? Nooooooo! Can you jump? Yessssss!" While they're progressing through the activity, offer on-the-spot correction.

• Give "fast finishers" a task to do that incorporates some element of individual achievement if they've just worked in a team, or vice-versa. If you're labeling the playground with chalk, the kid who's still writing his name isn't going to be done before the kids who learned how to write a few years before him will be done, so give the faster kids a task like rearranging the play mats or coloring their own names with additional pictures.

• The last ten minutes could be a consolidation stage: you teach them the rules to a game earlier in the session; they play it; finally, they administer it. Over a few lessons, teach them words like "your turn", "wait", "go", "one point for _____ team", etc.

• If points are to be obtained, design activities where the first person done doesn't get points, but the people who do the best job or who take on a special role do. Who's ready when it's time to start? Who's helping their partner? Who's leading today's closing chant? Who's keeping everyone in line for the water fountain?

My little ones are totally my favorite class, but even though we're sitting in a classroom we all burn about 5000 calories a lesson. Have fun!
posted by mdonley at 1:02 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Learn the native rhymes and chants, pick up the various kids' games. There will be a local version of something like "Red Light, Green Light." All of those little bits of childhood native to America probably have something analogous local to you.
posted by adipocere at 5:13 AM on November 27, 2008

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