I’ve spent one year teaching English to Early Childhood in a school in Spain, thanks to Meddeas Language Assistants Program, with specific placements to teach preschoolers. It has been an amazing experience that I will always remember. Here I’ll tell you my teaching abroad story and through 10 perks of teaching Early Childhood in Spain.
When I was first assigned to teach in Spain with Meddeas, I’ll admit: I was terrified. I’d never really done any babysitting. I’d definitely never changed a diaper. At the occasional family reunion, I have fun with my little cousins for a few hours, and then happily return to a home not littered with rattles and singing stuffed animals.
But the truth is, I’ve been pleasantly surprised this year. Sure, there are days when corralling 20 tiny human beings can be exhausting. No one’s a fan of the dirty diaper smell, or the piercing shriek of a hungry infant. But then again, there are undeniable perks about teaching at a Spanish school, with children ages 0-2.
1. Toddler Therapy
My university used to bring dogs onto campus during every final exam period, because apparently, cuddling dogs lowers stress levels and creates happy hormones. I’m starting to think dog therapy is akin to toddler therapy. There’s something about squeezing those chubby cheeks or getting a goodbye kiss from those tiny little lips that’s heart-melting.
2. Unconditional Love
You can yell at and punish a toddler for biting his classmate, and he might cry and sulk for a minute. The next minute, he will be attacking you in a bear hug like he could never live without you.
3. No Planning
When you’re an Early Childhood Educator at a Spanish school, you won’t be preparing Powerpoint slides of pronunciation techniques, or games to practice the conditional tense. Your duties involve using language in a natural context so the babies pick it up -essentially, you talk for a living. The most preparation I’ve had to do outside the school was completing a midterm write-up, a couple sentences on the progress of the children: “X is excelling rapidly. He can sing all the words to ‘Old McDonald,’ and he’s finally stopped chewing on his shoelaces.”
4. Free Cookies
Every morning we hand out galletas María to the toddlers, those addicting breakfast biscuits that’ll win over even the most stubborn scrambled eggs fan. It’s basically understood at the school that the routine will be: Hand out a cookie, eat one for ourselves. Hand out another, eat another.
5. Singing is Good For the Soul
I’ve been teaching at this Spanish school for six months, and I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Itsy Bitsy Spider nearly on repeat. Five days a week, multiple times a day, for six months. You do the math -I’m singing a lot. I believe it’s been proven that singing is a stress-releaser, so at this rate, I’ll never need a massage
This must be why Beyonce looks so good.
6. Witness Early Developments
At school, I get to relish in “first moments,” like first steps and first words, without actually having to do all the dirty work of having my own child.
7. Baby Shoes and Baby Costumes
Nothing in life, except maybe teacup pigs, is cuter than baby footwear and baby sweaters. And when a one-year-old dresses up as a train for Carnaval, your world will be a happier place.
The two-year-olds have only recently started speaking, so they spit out very basic sentences in their native language. This is great for your own language-learning: You may only be allowed to use English, but you can still listen to what they’re saying and easily pick up new phrases in Spanish or Catalan. Of course, those phrases may be “I wet my pants.”
9. Training for Parenthood
Who knows if I’ll ever want kids after this year. Honestly, it sounds exhausting. But whatever I decide down the line, at least I now know how to change a diaper; that I shouldn’t hand a pea-sized Lego to a one-year-old; and that crayons can entertain a kid for hours.
10. They Can’t Tell on You
So you can steal their cookies and no one will ever know. Of course, I’ve never done this. I’m just saying…
So, in the end, my experience of teaching Early Childhood in Spain has been unforgettable. Sure, babies may scream a lot. But like I said, there are absolute perks to teaching toddlers and preschoolers.
I encourage you to experience them!