On Wednesday I went to the G-Hoikuen which is a preschool. As with most preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools in Japan, there are not really any teachers who know English well. Thus, you are expected somehow to teach little kids English. I had been looking forward to visiting the kids though because it's something other to do than sit at the BOE. I was totally ready for those preschoolers.
The main teacher came out and greeted me and opened the first gate of containment for the kids. This is the actually the last line of defense from the highway and the kids if they were to escape outside of the building. But from my perspective it was the first barrier to cross. She informed me that she didn't know any English and apologized but usually Japanese people know plenty of Katakana English words. This makes for some very interesting conversations. Example, the principal at the middle school called the the katsuo tataki, fuureshuu fishu steaksu. It's impossible to replicate the tone and volume of that in text but it was funny.
Several of the teachers gathered the kids in the main room and I sat down to teach the little ones some English that they will never remember. I started out with good morning and how are you. It was useful to have some Japanese knowledge so they actually knew what I meant. They were pretty good at pronouncing what I said. They were so cute that it was hard to really teach them anything. I told them I was from America and showed them a map of Illinois. This was great because they found lots of animals on the map so we spent most of the time talking about the names of animals in English. I asked the kids what animals they liked and surprisingly (with a little persuasion from the teachers) the kids answered. I made good use of a girl that said she liked penguins. I had the students get up and walk like penguins around the room. They really loved that as did the teachers. It was fun. After the animals I did some fruits and talked about which ones they liked. I think that lasted around a half hour or more.
Best part of the day was swim time. After my lesson all the students got naked in the same room to change into their swimming suits. The other ALT had told me about this so I wasn't unprepared but it's still interesting. I wonder at what age they change separately from each other. I suppose kids are so unaware at that age that it probably doesn't matter so much. I felt a little shy around the other female teachers but I was like whatever, I'm going to swim with some awesome little kids.
The little kids loved swimming with me. I lifted some of them into the air and let them ride on my back like a big fish. A few of the girls especially liked this and at one point they were fighting over who got to go next. It was cute. They could not care less who I was or where I was from but that I was having fun with them. That is all that mattered. I love such joyful innocence, laughter, and fun. I hope I can spend some more time with those kids. At one point, one of the teachers asked me my age while I was playing with the kids. I replied and she was like "Ooohhh you are the same age as this other girl here." There is no doubt about the implication of that question. Good thing I didn't really 'meet' the other teachers. One of my favorite things was when they were asking if I was going back home soon in soft quiet hard to decipher voices. I think they wanted me to stay and have lunch with them but I was only scheduled to be there till 11am. They were all so cute and nice. When I left they all came to the door to see me off. Their faces could melt the coldest soul.
Kids are what make this job fun. You can't ever forget that unless you have repressed city kids who are terrors.