Play Day: The Obstacle Course.

We are off to the races (as they say), I  still can’t believe that it’s midway through September. Not only was my birthday two weeks ago, but starting a new job at a Preschool in the Czech Republic has been spontaneous and quite an adventure. Each school week is divided into themes that are woven into our daily activities (morning circle time, art classes, theater class, gym class and alternatively cooking and science class). Last week’s theme was “Back to School/Welcome Back Week”.

To clarify, this definitely isn’t my first time caring for small children. I babysat in high school. In college, I intermittently taught English lessons via Skype, while occasionally babysitting (and working at JCrew and a second hand clothing store). Then, In the summer of 2009, I taught English in a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal. The Monastery was for orphaned boys (ages 6-18), who were surrendered by parents (who were unable to care for them due to: illness, mental disability, poverty and/or other unfortunate circumstances).  The Monastery and Monks provided food, shelter, education and fun in exchange for introducing the boys to monastic life. At a certain point when the boys turned eighteen, they made the decision to become a monk, or could leave the grounds and pursue and life among lay people. More on that experience in another post.

Similarly, while living and working in New York City (along with the various survival jobs that I held while beginning a career in Acting, I taught English and Spanish via Skype and in person). I also worked as a nanny for a family of three kids (who I still keep in touch with and absolutely love dearly, I would do anything for those kids). Since living in Europe, I’ve taught private lessons on medical, legal, and business English to students ranging from ages 5-75, but I notice that as the school year has approached, I felt both excited and nervous!

Nervousness aside, I do greatly appreciate the curiosity and beauty that most children possess for the world around them. By default of their young age, every small object, color or detail is new, exciting and can open this window to their imaginations. It’s such an amazing process to watch. In a lot of ways, adulthood can (sometimes, but not always) rob you of that innocence, pure joy and sense of play and fun It is so easy to forget about simple and beautiful moments around us!

One of the (many) extracurricular activities that I created during “Back to School/Welcome Back Week”, was a fun, outdoor obstacle course that the kids were challenged to complete for gym class. It included a lap around the sandbox, rope climb, wiggling like a snake through a fabric tunnel, sliding down a slide and testing one’s balance across the balance beam/outdoor beam bridge apparatus. All of my little students were very excited and most of them finished the obstacle course twice (imagine loud laughter, intense concentration and lots of cheering from their peers).

During our morning circle times, we worked on the ABC’s, spelling our own first name, and gesturing/actioning useful verbs in the present tense (like sit, give, take, run, read, write, sing, sleep, eat, drink, walk, talk, stop).

I’m looking forward to getting to know each student as the school year progresses, time to see what next week has in store.

 The Obstacle Course, © Lucia Saldarriaga Photo

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