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Teaching 3-4 year olds 
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Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:58 pm
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Post Teaching 3-4 year olds
Hello,
does anyone have experience with teaching this age group? They are so small I just have no idea what to do with them. I tried teaching them colours with some coloured blocks but they didn't seem to take much interest in it.

thanks in advance


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:09 pm
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It's a difficult age to teach. I think it's because they have become autonomous and thus simply don't follow or go with the flow like 2-3 year olds. Also, they aren't really old enough to understand what it is they're supposed to do or how they are going to learn in this classroom environment.

I think reading to them is good, but the books need to have just a sentence or two per page. I also have a little exercise time before we read. It gives the students a chance to burn a little energy and makes them more likely to sit still for 5 minutes. I have them find things on a page which gets their attention or I might pretend to eat a piece of food that's on the page. Then pretend to hand it out to some of the kids.

This age group is very physically interactive. They like to do things, hold things, give, take, hide, find, ... You need to find a way to engage them, find some need for them to speak in English and get them interested. For example, if I was doing animals, I would show the rabbit card and then pretend to take the rabbit from the paper and put it in my pocket. I tell them I like rabbits and I'm going to take it home. A student will probably try to do the same thing and I'll flip to the hippo card. Maybe he doesn't want the hippo, so he now needs to ask for the rabbit. This is a way to elicit the vocabulary.

I also can usually engage them by making mistakes. I'll put out a blue card and say it's red. The students then want to correct me. They'll say "No! No! blue." and I respond "Yeah, yeah, red." Then they repeat, "No! No! blue!" and I say "Oh! you're right. It's blue, not red." Then, I have their attention and we can do 4 more colors, before I have to do the same thing again. :D

I will admit that 4-5 year olds are the toughest group for me. They require a lot of short activities, a lot of physical activities and it can be chaotic and stressful. What I try hardest to do is make them like English class and build the idea that English is fun and easy. If they like English and they feel confident as they get older they will be great English learners.

I hope that helps a little.

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Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:15 pm
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thank you, it was very helpful.
I agree with you (though I ve just started teaching them, cant compare with you there) about the 4-5 olds age group and also do everything to avoid them feeling bored. When they like you and your classes everything is much easier and they are willing to pay attention and do what you say.

btw Ive downloaded loads of you flashcards and other teaching materials- great stuff :-)


Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:41 am
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How many do you have at once, and for how long?

I have one group of 4 kids in this age group and they have an hour lesson once a week. I've been having a bit more success with them lately but at first it was a big struggle. The boys would crawl under desks and punch each other as soon as they stepped in the classroom and the girls would just sort of wander around. I've found that their default mode is "go crazy" and they need to be interacting with something at all times to keep them from flipping back to "go crazy" mode.

I found a CD with this really annoying TPR song (it comes with this book called The Wiggle Book) and I've been having success starting class by playing it at a very high volume. If I sing a song a capella they just stare at me like "what is that guy doing? Why is he making those strange sounds?" At first the children just kept punching each other while I was doing the TPR motions to this stupid song but they soon became entranced and I was able to teach them a couple vocab words after that.

Instead of showing them a card and saying "what's this" or "this is a rabbit" I basically do what Mark says and hide the card, then flash the card quickly and then they're just chomping at the bit trying to figure out what the card is. Eventually they steal all the cards and hide them from ME and they imitate me by saying "what's this??" and I guess wrong and let them correct me. We do the same thing when we sit down to color. If I expect them just to color for 10 minutes they will lose focus and start punching each other. Instead I hide a crayon in my hand and they try to see what it is, and then they decide to hide crayons and quiz me by saying "what color??" Then they hide multiple crayons and start saying English numbers, like "6 what color??" which isn't exactly proper grammar but I'm just happy that the kids can practice numbers, colors, and a question form that can be useful as they learn more words. For learning vocab, they seem to like playing simplified Pictionary, which we call "Let's Guess!". We don't have teams or keep score, but the kids take turns coming up to the white board and I let them pick from a few flash cards of things they can draw and everybody tries to guess. They seem to get a kick out of it.

If I pulled out the Very Hungry Caterpillar and tried to read it to them they might look at it for 4 seconds and then run away and crawl under a desk. Instead, I plant a bunch of interactive books around the classroom and let the kids discover them. I basically booby trap my classroom with potential lesson materials so if I lose their attention they will inadvertently stumble on something educational. I use a version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see that has these cardboard flaps the kids can slide over, and I have this other book with some flaps they can open, the title of which I can't remember right now, and I also have this big floor puzzle we use to practice numbers and animals.

I think this sort of thing--letting the kids up to draw pictures, letting them quiz me, letting them discover materials--is useful because the "I am teaching you things now so you should sit and listen and study and ask questions if you don't understand!" dynamic just doesn't exist in their brains. Anyway I've only been doing this for 2.5 months so I can't claim any authority on the matter but this is just what I've been doing to keep everybody (including myself) from going crazy.


Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:55 pm
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lorax, thanks a lot for your reply

unfortunately I have a group of 18 kids, so cannot apply your advice :(


Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:47 am
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