As you may have guessed from the title, last week was Día del Niño, a day celebrated in mostly Latin American countries but others around the world too. It recognises the importance of children in society and promoting their well being, which I believe to be a fantastic concept and leaves me wondering why we simply don’t have it in the UK. My parents’ answers to that would be ‘everyday is children’s day Harriet, we buy you things all the time’ fair point. However here it is about children having fun and eating an astronomical amount of sweets. On Día del Niño, it was actually our day working at the local primary school, so we were able to observe and partake in their fun activities and games. The primary school is very small and quaint with only six classrooms for the six grades in a sort of semi-circle and a stage area on the missing side with a courtyard in the middle. The stage was the hub of the day, being decorated with pretty pictures and signs, as well as there being bunting between lots of the trees too. Children from the local high school ran the activities, which included: bringing children up on stage and holding the best dancer contests, egg and spoon races except with limes rather than eggs (honestly it’s less messy so the UK really needs to catch on), piñata games and others too. For anyone who facies a laugh, they coaxed Gemma and I up on stage to join in with the song and dance, although all the high schoolers knew all the words and movements while we were very unaware. I definitely brought enthusiasm but I can’t really say I contributed much else, however, luckily for us the headteacher filmed it, so it’s permanently captured in history now! That day really was fab, as we met all the kids and teachers, played with them, got to experience what a celebration in Honduras is like and we got ice cream, fizzy drink, handfuls of sweets from the kids and this cake which was unbearable sweet but delicious.
That was our first day at the primary school, although we weren’t actually teaching anything so the next day (Wednesday) we took our first lessons. As I think I mentioned before I am doing 1st-3rd grade, while Gemma is doing 4th-6th. Before I begin I just want to preface how cute the kids are, I mean so so cute which does make it difficult to I suppose discipline them (well that and the evident language barrier) but I cannot let their puppy dog eyes fool me! Anyways, that week I tried to teach them ‘what is your name’ ‘my name is..’, the only issue is explaining the task, if I was back home, I could simply explain and explain again if the children did not understand but my vocabulary is very limited, although I do try to keep the tasks as simple as possible and sometimes (especially with 1st grade) the teacher may repeat what I say, only this time the children fully understand as she doesn’t have a horrific accent. The behaviour isn’t fantastic too, as with 1st but especially 2nd grade the class is massive with 40-something kids so when I am shouting ‘sientate class and silencio’ (sit down class and silence) my three new favourite words, most of my 2nd graders will be wondering around the class minding their own business while maybe 2 or 3 kids in the front will just look at me like ‘miss it’s okay I will listen’ and then shouts something which just disappears into the noise of the class. To be fair it isn’t always like that and the teacher will sometimes look up from her phone, shout ‘silencio’ and then everyone is quiet. But we just aren’t respected like the other teachers, but hopefully as time goes on, they will become easier to manage. In saying that my 3rd graders are a much smaller class and much better behaved and know slightly more English so they are a godsend and just get everything done. For the most part, the kids in all the grades do actually get their work done, it’s just how much they are learning which I question. Between 2nd and 3rd grade there is a recess for 30 minutes which involves the children eating copious amounts of food, I’m talking proper meals like baleadas, rice and chicken and snacks: crisps, fizzy drinks, chocolate, this all being at 9:30 in the morning as well. In that break we spend time with the children, chatting, playing card games, just having fun and receiving many many hugs and stickers. I get this throughout class too, it is very sweet and endearing but it gets to the point where it’s actually disrupting the lesson – although that’s just pretty funny to say and I’m not complaining! Recess has been the true test of our Spanish though, trying to hold conversations. More often than not I will just announce that I don’t know or don’t understand, but when I actually do, it’s such a fantastic feeling being able to communicate with them. I know I definitely need to practice my Spanish and learn more basic phrases and words as then not only will I be able to chat to the kids and form a stronger bond there, but also in the classroom it will help so greatly with explaining and their general behaviour.
Overall my experience at the primary school has been really good but our days on Tuesday-Thursday are quite long, with us beginning work at the primary school at 8am and finishing work at Miqueas between 6:30-7:30pm but it keeps us busy and truly ensures we appreciate our chilled Monday and Friday mornings. It’s nice to now feel properly integrated into the La Colorada community, as Miqueas has basically become my comfort zone and so stepping out of that was quite daunting but I’m really glad I did. We have already had so many experiences we just couldn’t only working at Miqueas – the most important I feel is the total immersion in the Spanish language and being forced to speak it. We also see the kids around the village a lot so always hear ‘hello meeees (miss, but in their accent it comes out like meees which is so cute) coming from some direction. I’m definitely looking forward to teaching them more, building up a good rapport and hopefully learning all their names as currently I know about 4 which I just pick on all the time. It’s difficult as some are really western and easy to pronounce like Karen or Daniella, while others I hear the kids say but I simply cannot pronounce without them have a laughing fit!