What I got from teaching another language at my daughter´s school

This is what a good friend of mine wrote to me:

This semester I started a new personal project: teach young kids a second language at my daughter’s school for free. I started doing this because I was teaching English to my daughter at home, so why not do it for more kids at the same time?

To make things easy, instead of organizing kids to come to my house, I offered myself to go to Luísa’s school twice a week (then 3 times) and sing songs with my guitar to the kids there for half an hour.

With the principal´s approval, I rehearsed a few children songs and got my repertoire ready to go. I also started to read books to them before singing.

Some of the songs are Three Little Birds, Don’t Worry Be Happy, One Love, Octopus’s Garden and There Ain’t No Road Too Long (from Sesame Street, I really love the message in this one).

The kids in the two groups I teach are between 2 and 5 years old.

I started doing it also because I feel like participating actively in the children’s education (not only my girl’s) and this seemed like a good way to start. With my half an hour little classes 3 times a week, I spend less than 2 hours a week dedicated to this. It´s not so much and I can do it because I´m not in a full-time job (or a job of any sort).

But since I put my hands on something bigger than just teaching my own daughter, I couldn’t help wondering how amazing it would be if other parents would give one hour a month of their time to increase the children´s education. Like me, other parents must have a lot of different talents they could be sharing for free.

As an example, in Luísa´s group, there are 14 kids (in the afternoon group there´s another 20 something). We could surely use an extra 14 hours a month of dedicated parents to them all. And if anything like this would happen, I can only guess that the extra-curricular classes would be awesome, with arts, languages, and skills I can’t even think of being passed tenderly to our group of kids.

And this considering only one parent per kid. If we were to organize anything, I’m sure some people would end up giving more of their time while some would not be available for various reasons. But ok, this is just an imaginary scenario, I’m not really into sorting out all the logistics that this would involve.

Talents – who doesn’t have them?

We all have a lot of talents to share for free with everyone, but since our society is the way it is (in a few words: too screwed up), with our individualist values on a high level and our lives super busy to the extent of forgetting that humans are social beings, we live content without sharing much.

But instead of just complaining about how we are all selfish and individualistic, I decided to make the change I want to see in the world sharing more of what I know with people, starting with the children at my daughter´s school.

Now the semester is coming to an end and so is this wonderful experience I had. It’s like I always heard about volunteer work, you feel great about it and you feel like it’s you receiving the biggest benefits of your kind action.

I love how these kids know me and talk to me in the street. I get amazing smiles whenever I meet one of them and they all call me by my name, I feel so special. I felt really moved the first time I heard them singing along and almost burst into tears right there. Then I got used to hear them singing along and speaking some of the words I taught them. So cute.

Now I understand why teachers are so passionate about what they do. At least here in Brazil they are not very well paid and they work under loads of idealism (at least many that I’ve met). They could definitely make more money in other sorts of jobs where they would work less, but where they wouldn’t find this amazing feeling of making the difference in people´s lives.

And end here and a beginning there

I won´t continue with this at Luísa’s school because next January we are going on an extended trip to Costa Rica, where I want to mix in with another culture, put Luísa in a new kindergarten and try to do the same: give something to the community we live in, even if it´s touching very few people.

I want even more than teaching something. I want to inspire other parents to do the same, to give a bit of their time for the benefit of other children and have lots of fun with this, just like me.

There is not one great method or school that will cover all our kid´s necessities. We have to work actively with our children if we really want to help them develop their full potentials.

In a way, I have to admit that my goal is selfish. If I didn’t have Luísa, I don´t know if I would feel like sharing anything at all. I want Luísa to have it all and this makes me happy.

Now that I have a daughter I´m truly devoted to help all the children to have access to all the knowledge and possibilities that are available.

I hope that teaching a few children a second language is just the start for me to find a way to spread the knowledge and to actively engage.

How nice if more people would do this selfish kind of acts. Teach others, share the knowledge and be happier with the results.