When I first arrived in Mongolia I had come from 4 years of teaching three and four year olds full-time. Going from that to a one-on-one language learning context was a real challenge for me! So, at the request of a Mongolian friend who had two young children herself, I started a playgroup in my home. This was so fantastic for me on many levels- a context in which to practise my language, connecting with local families in the community, keeping my own learning fresh by spending quality time with children, as well as taking the edge off language study and providing me with very life-giving and energising interactions!
I host playgroup two afternoons a week. It is a challenge sometimes- my apartment is not very big and I am constantly trying to "create" more space for the children to play, explore, engage and learn. I have moments when my language fails me and there are miscommunications (thankfully children are generally much more forgiving and gracious than we adults are). I have times when my ideas clash somewhat with the culture in which I am living and working with these children, and I need to find the balance between introducing new ways of thinking and knowing when to allow culture to take it's rightful place.
But despite all these things I find myself SO refreshed and inspired after our interactions together, and it makes me all the more determined to see this thing through. It makes me smile at the beauty of early childhood; that children around the world are precious and unique and yet pretty much the same- they learn through play, they delight in exploring and discovering new things, they engage deeply, they live passionately, they see possibilities that grown-ups often completely miss, they challenge my thinking, they know how to "be".
Yes... being an early childhood teacher would have to be the most amazing, challenging and life-changing profession around. I am so glad I am in it!
Here are some videos I made for my family, friends and supporters. They give you a glimpse of the children here and the learning taking place. Please do stop and take a look!