If you’re about to start teaching English, or if you’ve been teaching for a while, you’ll probably have met those few people who are in what I call the ‘never kids’ camp. That means that the last group of learners they want to teach is kids. Adults or nothing. Maybe students, but probably not.
I was one of those, determined to never teach young children. Why? Because I had a lot of preconceived notions about what teaching children is like. Problems with discipline, babysitting, bathroom issues, and not being able to really intellectually engage them as students. The thing is, I ended up covering a kids class for my friend once. Then another. Then I took an entire class for a month. Then I got a job teaching kids for over a year.
While I don’t tend to teach so much these days, I still have a lot of respect for people who teach kids and I have fond memories of my time teaching younger learners. For reference, I’m talking about ‘kids’ in the sense from very young learners (as young as 3) all the way up to 12 year olds.
So if you’re one of those ‘never kids’ teachers, why not reconsider your preconceived notions about what it’s like teaching young learners, and also consider the following perks that you won’t get with a class of exhausted adults who’ve come straight from work!
1. More rewarding
Adults are grown up, have their own things to deal with, and usually an instrumental reason for learning English, for example they need it for work. This can lead to more of a ‘get through learning so I can be finished with learning’ approach, which shows in class work. While you will find adults who just learn English for the love of it, it’s a much smaller percentage than a kids class.
This means that kids have a different attitude to learning. They tend to engage more, ask ‘why’ more, and also, you get the fun of teaching them new things. It’s pretty cool when your students are like ‘wowww, you can use scissors?’ You get to be a hero!
There’s not much more inspiring than seeing kids learn new things and improve. When a young student finally ‘gets it’, it can be an inspiring experience. Seeing how young learners have motivation and ability to acquire new knowledge can also drive you to learn more yourself. I’ve come out of classes thinking about how I can cultivate such an awesome, enthusiastic and inquisitive attitude to things that I want to learn about the world.
3. Better pay
Especially in China and South East Asia, people recognise the importance of having the next generation fluent in English. For this reason, more and more parents are willing to invest heavily in their children’s education. This leads to higher demand, and of course higher salaries.
While money isn’t everything, it is a big consideration. If you can make a lot more money teaching children, and enjoy teaching children too, then why not take advantage of that benefit?
4. Greater job security and opportunity
Again, with high demand comes better English centres and educational institutions, more need for advanced managers and academic directors, and greater job security.
For that reason, teaching younger learners can lead to a better, more stable career with higher opportunities for advancement. You’re in a growing, dynamic market and there needs to be expert teachers and leaders to steer it in the right direction. Not a bad place to be.
5. Keeps you young!
Ultimately, teaching children is a great way to retain your sense of humour, have fun, and keep active (ever tried teaching a kindergarten class? There’s a lot of running and games involved!). You’re not just standing at a whiteboard or sitting at a desk. That’s a pretty cool way to make your living and enjoy feeling young at heart.
If you think there are any more reasons to reconsider teaching young learners, or you’re still in the ‘never kids’ camp, then why not let us know why in the comments!