Apr 11, 2018

Entertaining Your Child While You Teach

    This one goes out to all the other English-teaching parents with young kids out there.
    When my daughter was born, I had savings from my semi-full-time job and all the time in the world...except diapers cost money and savings don't grow by themselves. When my daughter was around a year old, I went back into teaching, tentatively at first, then with increased vigor, but problems abounded. Eventually, school started and I had the chance to pick up a few private daytime lessons here and there, both in person and online. But what happens when school vacation starts? 

    Kids crave attention. We know this. Getting my in-laws to watch her is my usual go-to plan of action for my regularly occurring evening and weekend classes. For my semi-regular online student as well as a recently begun weekly daytime class, it hardly seems fair to bother them. That said, my kid can be a terror when she wants attention and cannot have it. So this is the plan of attack I have adapted to help keep her occupied for as close to an hour as I can without further intervention.

Entertaining Your Child While You Teach photo

1) Assignments

We've recently started my daughter on writing her upper-case English alphabet in a lined notebook. We bring this along to class so she has a little work of her own to do. Then she will interrupt to have me check her work, during which time I will copy out a few letters she could improve on and encourage her to practice them. She also has a Japanese notebook in which to practice her name and other characters in hiragana as well as a Hiragana learning book from Daiso.

2) Coloring and Drawing

I try to bring a coloring book and/or blank notebook that she can draw in if the mood strikes, which almost never happens. I do not recommend this tactic with any kids who do not yet understand what surfaces are okay to color on.

Entertaining Your Child While You Teach photo
3) Pre-arranged Bribery

This only works if you know something your kid desperately wants to do that is also in your means to grant and won't cost you more to do than you'll make during the class. For my kid last week it was making cupcakes. I make a point of telling her before class that if she could stay nice and quiet and calm while listening well for that one hour, we could make cupcakes in the afternoon. Last week, this worked. A few weeks ago, it was fairly wings I had bought online (that were already waiting, hidden in a closet) that she could totally have should she calm down and stay nice and relaxed for the last twenty minutes of a class that she otherwise destroyed.

Entertaining Your Child While You Teach photo
Cupcakes: A small price to pay for an hour's peace.

Long story short, I've resorted to bribery and activity planning. It's all I've got. How do you handle your mischievous little helpers?



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.