Yesterday Bu Arfa asked the teachers at Intan’s kindergarten if they were interested in having me drop by to work with the teachers and maybe teach an English song to the students. They were delighted and slightly overwhelmed and it was arranged that I would join them this morning.
So this morning at 6:45am, Bu Arfa dropped both me and Intan at kindergarten and then went off to school herself promising to return at 9:30am to collect me. The teacher explained to me that kindergarten in Indonesia is for students aged 5 – 7 years old and it occurred to me that kindergarten here is similar to years R-2 of school in SA. Children go to ‘playgroup’ before starting kindergarten and this sounds much more like we call kindergarten in Australia. However, our students stay at school the whole day unlike here in Indonesia where they only stay for 3 hours.
As we still had a bit of time before kindergarten was due to start, I took the opportunity to have a look around the room. The chairs and tables were all wooden and were set out in rows just like they are at the high school. The walls were largely bare and across the room 2 lines were strung and from them hung pictures of fruit which looked as though they had been cut out by an adult. A poster which grabbed my eye outlined what the set topics are in kindergarten for the first semester.
I was then invited to meet the principal who then arranged that instead of just working with one class, all the 58 students from the school would be combined! I explained that in Australia I teach with my students sitting on the floor so all the tables and chairs were immediately stacked against the walls and then mats and a length of lino were laid out on the floor for the students to sit on. While the room was being prepared, the children ran amok. They were climbing on the tables and chairs, playing chasey and yelling at the tops of their voices. The teachers tolerated it all only mentioning in passing that maybe someone may fall if they were sitting on chairs atop tables! This actually was the main thing that I found really difficult to adjust to. The children are all totally used to doing exactly what they wanted to do with very little teacher intervention. Individual students were spoken to but rarely was the whole group disciplined effectively.
All the children were called inside and as soon as they were sitting on the floor, I was introduced to the students and then basically told to teach them!! It really challenged my teaching skills! Instead of showing respect and listening to a visitor, they all just were like a bunch of little monkeys. I had prepared a song to teach them (here we go loopy loo) which had lots of repetition and used hand actions and I walked them through it and they eventually started joining in. I then invited them all to stand up and form a circle. It was like asking receptions who had just started school to form a circle, They stood around waiting for an adult to take them by the hand and put them in the circle! This took ages with 58 students! We then began the song using actions which went reasonably well until I introduced the feet chorus. As soon as the students lifted one foot of the ground, they all started hopping around the room! Getting them back in the circle was difficult however once they were in a circle, we completed the song. I asked them to sit down hoping they would sit where they were standing but they all raced around the room trying to find a position on the mat near their friends.Bedlam ruled again! I then dug deep into my attention seeking skills and tried clapping changing the rhythm to keep their attention but this only worked if the rhythm was snappy. Once I tried to slow it down, I lost them again and their clapping became louder and crazy! I then resorted to a sort of simon says by seeing if they could keep up with me however as soon as I stopped, I lost their attention once again! I did some counting with them and then it was recess! Boy was I glad to collapse in a chair and take a break. Unfortunately though, it immediately started raining, so students grabbed their recess and either sat around the room eating it or played while eating it. Most children ate processed junk food
One the rain stopped thankfully most students headed outside to play as they were going crazy inside. They were play fighting, playing chasey and generally running around everywhere. As always, I was amazed that no one was hurt and that no ones food was knocked over! The break went for much longer than 30 minutes but I didn’t complain at all! It was quite awkward as the one of the teachers asked me whether students in Australia were so naughty. I didn’t know what to say, so I said that we too have naughty children, which is totally true, isn’t it! The teachers were very embarrassed by their students behaviour. I wondered whether students are rarely exposed to lessons such as this and that maybe students are confined to their chairs during lessons to maintain control.
Eventually someone rang a bell and all students were called back into the room. Teachers sat the children down however could not quieten them down. I was then handled the rabble and invited to play a game with them which reinforced the learning of numbers. The only game I could think of that used no equipment and could be played inside was where the teacher calls out a number and then children get into groups of that number. I knew this would send the students totally crazy but since they wee almost there, I may as well go the whole distance! With a teachers help, we explained the rules of the game and we began with the number 2. They didn’t need too much help with that number however with 4 & 5, it got a bit tricky. Even though there were 5 teachers in the room, it quickly got out of hand and I handed them back to one of the teachers, saying I would like to observe them teaching. However she was extremely reluctant and I think this was because all the chairs and tables were against the wall and we only had 20 mins left before dismissal. After seeing the students in action, I realise that it would take 20 mins to get the room back in order! She suggested that we play the number game again, but I demurred and suggested she could instead lead them in a few Indonesian songs. The students enthusiastically sang a few songs all of which would be great to teach to my students next year.
It was with great relief that my time at the kindergarten finished and I have never been so grateful for time to pass! It was an absolutely exhausting 3 hours and not one I would willingly repeat! I am though, very keen to return to the kindergarten and observe them teaching this time!