What can a mother do when the city where she lives does not offer the kind of learning experience she wants her child to have? – Well, that’s my story.
Some years ago, I was a teacher in a language center for a while and I remember being amazed by some 6-year-olds leaving their classroom singing and producing some utterances in English. I wanted my son, Gabriel, to experience something like this. There was a problem, though. He was about 2 and no language center in my city would teach this age group. I used to ask my boss, when can I bring Gabriel ? and she used to answer me: oh we have to wait until he’s 6 or almost. That was not the answer I was looking for back them….
I used to teach teens and adults., I once tried teaching children, but as I had neither the knowledge nor the experience with this age group, the job lasted two weeks. I was teaching children the same way I was teaching adults, and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t learn anything so I thanked the principal for the opportunity and quit. Quitting may seem like failure but I saw it as a learning opportunity so I started studying about how children learn and by observing my son grow, play and develop I decided to try again.
As luck would have it, I got a job in a regular school to teach primary learners and even though I was terrified, I overcame my fear and did my best. I made mistakes again, but I also got things right. I connected with learners, I had my first special needs’ students, I learned so much and most importantly, this experience showed me what I needed to do. At the time, I had two jobs: this and the one in the language center, but the kind of teaching there didn’t reflect my beliefs anymore and I knew it was time for me to spread my wings.
At the time my parents believed I was irresponsible for quitting a formal job to become a teacherpreneur. Afterall, I was a single mother with a son to raise. However, this inspired me even more, I would be able to provide for my son and also open the first language center for pre-primary children in my city, enabling him to have the English experiences that I longed so much for. My grandmother offered me a spare room in her house to teach, and that’s what I did. It started with two children: my son and a classmate of his. After a month, my son went to a birthday party and spontaneously started to play with some colored balls saying the colors in English. The birthday girl’s aunt saw it and told her sister to enroll her daughter and that’s pretty much the beginning of Imagine Education.
So much has happened since then, my opinions, beliefs, knowledge and, my teaching have evolved. I do believe in early starts, but I also believe in optimal conditions and intrinsic motivation. Children have a myriad of things to teach us rather than we have to teach them. Their eagerness to discover the world, this look with fresh eyes, their kindness, spontaneity, boundless dreaming and, the excitement of something new, in short, living life to its fullest. My desire to provide this English start for my son not only fulfilled my wish, but it was also of paramount importance to direct me to the ones I want to pursue and learn from and with: (very) young learners.
Ana Clara Castilho
Ana Clara Castilho has been in ELT for over a decade, she has worked with a wide range of ages and teaching contexts. After becoming a mother, she fell in love with early years and founded Imagine Education. Always curious and eager to learn, she decided to take the CELTA, and went on to the CELT-P, TKT YL and the IH Teaching YL Certif cate. Understanding the importance of quality education for children, she obtained the Train the Trainer certif cate and has been working with teacher education in (very) young learner contexts.She has worked with a wide range of ages and teaching contexts. After becoming a mother, she fell in love with early years and founded Imagine Education. Always curious and eager to learn, she decided to take the CELTA, and went on to the CELT-P, TKT YL and the IH Teaching YL Certif cate. Understanding the importance of quality education for children, she obtained the Train the Trainer certif cate and has been working with teacher education in (very) young