Off Bubbles & Giving Clear Instructions

Published by alvinauh on

I have been so used to teaching older students that I occasionally forget how adorable younger students can be. Adorable in his case means just plain cute and exasperating. In this post today, the focus is not merely about the cuteness of certain children. I’ll also be focusing on how each instruction given by a teacher must be clear.

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The Story

So here’s what happened. I just had a new student enter my swimming class. She was no older than 4 years old and was the cutest little thing. She entered the water a little scared but I assured her that I will be holding her. I assured that I will not let her drown no matter what.

She agreed and we started the lesson. Conventionally, I will always teach a child how to exchange air before I start teaching any technique. As such, I told the child to start blowing bubbles in the water. The child looked at me with glee and shouted, ‘I know how to blow bubbles!’.

I was happy, at the very least I could skip forward quickly with the lesson. I was glad that I could avoid the pain of teaching a child how to exchange air, which can be rather difficult for young children. As such, I asked her to demonstrate her bubble blowing to me.

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She happily stared at me and started forming bubbles on her mouth with her saliva. I tried so very hard not to laugh. However, in hindsight, it was my fault for not being explicit with her.

The parents and I all had a great laugh after that. However, that helped me reflect on the need of my teaching methods.

Lessons On Teaching

I think one of the biggest issues with teaching different levels is the need to adapt instruction to fit their level of comprehension. Since I was used to teaching older children and adults, I did not have to be especially explicit to them.

However, younger children are a bit different, what we perceive as truth is not necessarily the child’s truth as well. I remember an exam question from a civics paper. The question asked what a child should do after finishing up his/her meal. The correct answer to that question was to clean up after themselves.

Unfortunately, most children in the class got that question wrong because many of them did not have to clean up after themselves. You see, a lot of the children in that school have maids and helpers at home. As such, their perceived truth was wildly different from what was considered as truth by the teacher.

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From this particular experience, I have started to learn how to adapt my instructions to fit the age group. It does take time, however, it has indeed been a good learning experience.

I just hope that I am prepared enough that the next time I meet another 4 years old, I don’t get surprised by something else they do. Then again, if they were to do something epic, it will make for another great story here on Steemit.

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