Thursday, February 19, 2015

What I Learned From A Classroom of 5-Year Olds #Mexico

Helping in the Classroom-600This morning, for the first time this year, the teacher asked me (and the other parents) to help out with the morning activity. I was so excited. Excited to see what actually goes on at a Mexican school. Not that I know what goes on at a Canadian school but I remember a bit myself and can imagine how things go.

All I knew about the activity was that we were going to be making insects. She asked me to bring scissors, seeds for eyes and some twigs. For what, I didn’t know. The Kids and I got some tree branches from the backyard, ate a watermelon for the seeds and I packed a pair of adult scissors.

When I arrived, the teacher had put the kids in tables according to who had parents and who didn’t. About 8 kids arrived alone and an additional 12 did not come to school at all*. Max and Artemis sat at a table with Victor (their good friend, I know him to see him) and his sister who was probably 12 years old.

Once I received the official translation, it turned out that we were supposed to make a bunch of different insects using the tools that we had brought.


Clearly Ed should have come instead because I am no McGyver. Fortunately, there was paper, Popsicle sticks, glue, paint, playdoh** and other items in the school room that we could use. Even so, I wasn’t really sure what to do. While I like to think that I’m creative and can knit a mean scarf, the creations that the other parents kids were making were totally out of my league.

It was at that moment that I realized that I should probably go back to school. And, that,

I’ve Learned a Lot about Helping in the Classroom.

1. 5-Year Olds know More about Insects than I do. I know that they have wings and such (did you know that some of them have 2 sets!?) and antennas and a bunch of legs. I mean, I’d know one to see one but, having to describe one isn’t so easy. Make me have to do it in another language and I’m totally out of my depth.


2. The Other Adults know less than I do. I was trying to translate the names of some of the insects (I do know a bunch) but even with pictures, the parents couldn’t tell me what they were called.

3. **Playdoh is really Paper Pulp. You can buy playdoh here, however, the kids use a grey paper pulp mixture (with flour and glue). When they’re done creating, they paint it. Works well enough.


4. It is possible to answer 5,612 questions in an hour and a half. 5,611 of which were related to my name, the name of The Kids and the name of their father. The only other one was asking if they were twins.

5. Parents do most (if not all) of the work. I did not personally do all the work, however many of the other kids creations were entirely completed by the Parents. The child didn’t even lift a paint brush.


6. Mexican paint comes out of clothes. Paint is not allowed in our house. At all. It’s not my fault exactly. You see, when The Kids go to Playgroup (in Canada), whenever they paint, the paint will not come out (even though the coordinator puts soap in it). So, for the sake of our clothes, we don’t do it unless we’re outside and naked (note that this may have happened on several occasions…). How do I know that Mexican paint comes out? Well because Max and I got covered in it.

7. The Kids don’t act much differently when their Parents are present. Max and Artemis (and probably most of the kids) behaved exactly as I thought they would. They didn’t hang all over me and were up and down checking out other peoples creations and just generally being five.

150219-Max and Artemis Helping in the Classroom

8. Their teacher is a saint. How she manages to teach 34 kids anything and without losing any, I don’t know. I have a hard enough time with two. I do know that every single day when I pick up The Kids for school, she has a smile on her face. And, I’ve never heard her raise her voice in anger. Note that I have heard her yell, in fact, she needs to yell most of the time just to be heard.

All in all, it was a very positive experience for me and The Kids and I hope to have the chance to do it again soon.

Ever Helped Out at Your Kids School?

* I will have to ask the Teacher if this lack of attendance on days that require parental assistance is routine. I imagine that it is as the parents have chores and/or work that needs to get done. They’re allowed to bring their child to work so it wouldn’t affect their routine at all if the child isn’t in school.

P.S. Max has been in school now for the past six weeks. You can read about the first post for this year or get updated on the 3-Part Series from last year.

18 thoughts on “What I Learned From A Classroom of 5-Year Olds #Mexico

  1. Aneta Alaei

    Sarah you kill me. I also tell my kids to get naked to paint and such and sometimes it is scary. My toddler like to draw everyday and a few weeks ago I gave her the markers and let her go to town. When she finally came over to find me she was covered in red dots, which I immediately thought were measles, which immediately made me scream, which caused her to cry, and then i realized she just drew red dots all over her body. Anyways back to you and your adventure. Love that Max seems to be enjoying himself now and going. Love that you had a great experience. Love the Timmies cup because you know, Canadians rule.
    Aneta Alaei recently posted…Kids…I Threw Out Your Toys & My GuiltMy Profile

  2. Kayla @ TheEclecticElement

    What an absolutely fascinating opportunity to get to have and experience! I had NO idea this was how some Mexican schools worked. Here in the US if our parents would have completed our work for us, it would have been a MAJOR no-no! And to learn about the differences in craft supplies is quite unique, too. Such an adventure 😀
    Kayla @ TheEclecticElement recently posted…Keep Calm, Connected & Worry-free with Stayfree + 30 Days FREE Yoga OfferMy Profile

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Kayla,

      I think more than anything it’s that the kids can’t do the curriculum that they’re given. Either because it’s too difficult or they don’t have the skills necessary. The Kids are in a grade ahead of what they would be in Canada so we don’t worry at all about what they’re learning. Except that we know that they ARE learning. It’s all really interesting.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Enter the Search for Dora the Explorer’s Super Fans and WIN! #DoraLiveCanada #ContestAlert My Profile

  3. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    Another good read, thanks for sharing with us. I often think that parents are more ambitious & competitive than their children at this sort of thing. I was pleased to read that Max is still in school, hopefully he’s now got so used to going that there won’t be any more difficulties, I have my fingers crossed 🙂

  4. René

    This is great. I look forward to helping out next year. It’s great to see them in a different environment where they have their own thing going on!

  5. Aliya D

    I have spent a lot of time overseas in war torn regions, in poor countries and even in refugee camps… It always surprises and awes me at the inspiration, excitement, creativity and ingenuity these kids have; they make do with what little they have, create the most amazing things. And they learn. Love it! Thanks.

      1. Aliya D

        Hi Sarah,

        I have been a refugee and an illegal as a toddler and I have also worked overseas for the government, various NGO’s and a few private firms following 9/11. You are welcome to send me an email (the email connected to this post) and we can talk. 🙂

  6. heidi c.

    My kids are at the age where the barrage of questions is non-stop. I know that I went to school and studied hard but my kids sure know how to point out Mommy’s knowledge deficiencies.

  7. Brenda A

    Oh that caterpillar is so cute! I would love to go into school in different countries to see how they operate. I work in a Canadian kindergarten room and am very familiar how the day to day here runs. I love being with those curious 4 and 5 year olds!

  8. loucheryl

    I love little ones. I have two little boys, 5 years old and 21 months old. My older son is in Senior Kindergarten. I have never volunteered to help out his class because I’m a SAHM and have to watch his little brother. Once my little guy get in Kindergarten, I will be able to volunteer in the class. 🙂


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