Amy’s Top 10 Reasons to Teach Kindergarten in South Korea
An open letter to my dear fellow native English-speaking ex-pats:
As the ROK, in all it’s wisdom, has recently chosen to drastically reduce the number of native English-speaking teaching positions in public schools, I thought I might share some reflections on my past 4 years as a kindergarten teacher in the hopes that some of you may decide to broaden your teaching experiences in this direction. First, let me assure you that I neither became a certified teacher, nor came to Korea, to teach kindergarten. I am a high school world history/social studies teacher in the US. Before coming here, I never considered a kindy position, but through the strange and sometimes cruel twists of fate, I became one. In 2008, I took my first position in an elem./middle school academy that suddenly decided to create afternoon kindergarten classes upon my arrival. Perhaps because I am a mother with grown children, I was quickly assigned to teach “the babies.” Little did these folks know, I never was too fond of pre-pubescent children!! If they might wet their pants, need a nap or fail to have mastered eating with utensils at the table, I figured they were too “needy” for my personality … which is only marginally maternal (if at all.)
Well, as it so happens, the out-pouring of love, near perfect innocence, adoration and fun I experience every day in kindergarten (for me) has far out-weighed my students’ lack of ability to discuss the history of the world with me, and I would like to pass on why, I think, kindergarten teaching is such a rewarding job opportunity. So, here’s my list of top 10 perks of working with kinders:
10. Lunch with the kids – even if you don’t enjoy Korean food in general, there’s usually something tasty enough to broaden your culinary experience.
9. Gifts of gratitude from parents – I’ve received everything from donuts and socks to cases of fruit, hand-made soap, expensive cosmetics and many “duty-free” items when families return from abroad.
8. Meeting with parents in social and educational venues – I am constantly personally thanked by parents with heart-felt platitudes regarding the love I lavish on their children. If the child loves me, they thank me, if the child doesn’t, they apologize for their ungrateful (often disobedient) child.
7. All-day holiday parties and special events – although special events may require un-paid after-hours or Saturday work, they’re mentioned in your contract, and never excessive. Examples are: “Family Sports Day, Pajama Party, International Day, etc.”
6. Field Trips – Kinders get to go on field trips to museums, cultural events, movies, parks, resorts, fire and/or police stations, community services may visit your school with a personal safety puppet show or your children may be invited to perform for other members of the community or their relatives. As kinder teachers, we get to got to places we might not otherwise visit, and show-off the talents of our students in the process!
5. Small Classes – The max. is usually 10. This allows us to really get to know each student for an entire year. I consider this a privilege … this is my opportunity to imprint on my children the idea that foreigners can be loving and supportive influences in their lives and teach them to be less afraid.
4. 9 – 5 hours – Kindergartens rarely begin before 9 nor stay open after 5 or 6 at the latest. For those new to the teaching profession, American teachers most often work from 7:30 AM – 5 PM, then take work home to grade, fill out endless reports, write report cards and disciplinary actions.
3. Creative liberal arts lessons – In kindergarten, I have taught art, cooking, science, story-telling, drama, singing, multi-media, library skills, etc.
2. Kindergarten Directors – The Director of your kindergarten is more likely to be more concerned about the welfare of the children than a Director in a hagwon for older students. If you’re lucky, they’ll also be more sensitive to the needs of their employees. And if you’re very lucky, they may even treat Korean and foreign employees on an even keel. The reality is that private hagwons are businesses, but kindys have to answer much more immediately and thoroughly than for elementary/middle school kids… it’s a kinder, gentler business.
1. The uninhibited out-pouring of love, affection, respect and honesty of the student to the teacher.
Thanks for considering kindergarten, A. —
Do you work in kindergarten? If so would you recommend it?
Are you thinking about teaching in kindergarten? Post any questions you might have for me and Amy below!
hello everyone ,
i would be travelling to Korea in dependent visa , i have been in IT profession for last 11 years and now i want to take a break and company my husband in his new job at Seoul. Since i don’t like sitting idle can i get a job in kindergarten school in seoul even though i have no prior experience in teaching background. Now i want to contribute towards education field and learn new things in this area. Let me know if this is possible.