Teaching young kids a different set of skills to teaching a teenager or an adult. I now think that in order to teach children, a teacher must have a teaching degree or teacher training. Children are vulnerable and like sponges that absorb or reject information and we should handle their learning very carefully. I'll be honest, teaching young kids is hard work, a little scary and I don't enjoy it. I am out of my comfort zone and a ship without a rudder teaching small children. I have been more used to teaching adults for these past six years.
We meet every day for set number of hours. I see the twins on a rotating lesson plan. One twin is a girl and fairly well behaved, although certainly not perfect. She can say a few words but cannot yet construct any sentences. She likes drawing and puzzles so teaching her is not so hard. The second twin is a boy, he hates drawing, sitting still and learning. I think he has ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) we sit at the table for about an hour, he repeats words with pictures like a robot and just says back the words with blank distant look in his eye. We look at pictures of animals, I say the name and he repeats it, then we look at the animals again and he can only say about three animals out of ten animal pictures in the book. We sit for about ten minutes, then he starts stabbing the table with a pen, crawling under the table, running out the kitchen and jumping on the sofa, grabbing my hands and shouting. We fight through an hour and then go and play in the snow, in zero degree icy temperatures, he beats the snow with a spade and stabs the ground, rolls around in the snow like a demon and seems possessed by the devil. It's hard to tell a parent that there is a problem with one of their children. One twin is "normal" and the other is not. They are both a bit spoiled which does not help the situation. The parents are not mega oligarchs but comfortable middle class Russians, they want the best for their kids but have left it rather late for them to begin learning English. They want them to enter an English language school in a few months time, to go from zero to speaking English. The school only accepts children with a native English level of speaking, so its really rather mission impossible but I try my best.
I told the mother her son may have ADHD as his behavior fits the symptoms. The nannies (and they have one each) told me he is crazy. The boy will not have any chance of a normal life or education unless his behavior is addressed and repaired now, leaving it would be a disaster for him, he has been kicked out of several schools. On my recommendation, they only just took him to see a physiologist this week. I asked the boys mother to tell the psychologist that he may have ADHD, the psychologist told the mother that "half the kids in Russian schools have it". I know many conditions are trendy, convenient and more pleasant to label a child as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD or Dyslexia rather than calling them stupid, lazy or mental but these conditions are real and many children have them. Society is cruel and will not give kids the benefit of having a condition. The psychologist may have said this to the mother for four reasons, one she did not agree with me, two she wanted to tell the parents what they wanted to hear, three the boy is just badly behaved and spoiled and four Russians don't always like to be told what the problem is or to associate things with the west. ADD and ADHD are "western conditions" that Russia does not subscribe to. I will never know the reason, but the mother was given some exercises by the psychologist to help the boys concentration. I am Dyslexic, so I can understand how painful learning can be. Many ignorant people still think conditions like Dyslexia are mental and that a person is subnormal. I understand how hard it can be to learn and speak a language. If you have Dyslexia or any other learning condition, the sad fact is you keep it to yourself, even in the 21st century and in these enlightened crazy times we all live in. People are still very ignorant and cruel about learning conditions.
Without sounding like the late Michael Jackson, all kids are beautiful and all kids, regardless of their background, race, gender or ability, deserve a good chance and should be helped by us adults. As the late Whitney Huston sang "children are the future", well Miss Houston, without them, the human race would stop. To be serious, we only have to look at my sad country, the United Kingdom, where gangs roam the streets, stab, loot and kill other kids. These kids have been let down my the British education system and by their lazy and moronic parents, who probably lack a decent education themselves. It is an endless cycle of failure and decay. My Russian student is in a better position and I am sure his parents will do everything to help him.
I earn my money at this family but I am adrift at sea out of my comfort zone of teaching. After teaching this family, I return to my own family exhausted. I will try my best with these kids as its a challenge and a learning curve for us all. How long will I last there before I achieve my goal, get fired or leave? Only time will tell dear reader.
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