So You Wanna Work With Kids, Huh?

I hear it all the time from fresh eyed twenty somethings fresh off the plane from the US. “I just LOVE children! They are so sweet and innocent.” – A sure sign that they have never actually worked with children. And please note that when I say “work with” I mean en masse. I’m not talking about one-on-one tutoring or baby sitting. I’m not even talking about 3 or 4 little rug rats. I am talking about a class of 25 kids who range in age from 2-6. Oh, and English is not their native language.

When I did my TEFL course oh so long ago, (I attended TEFL Worldwide Prague, if any of you are interested. It was badass!) I never dreamed that I would end up teaching kindergarten. But that is just what has happened. I just wish someone had filled me in on those little things that aren’t so little. It would have made my first year of tiny people a lot easier. So, here you go: Things you need to know before you take a job teaching children in the Czech republic. 

  1. The kids here are WAY over mothered. Did you know that in CZ a woman can get up to THREE YEARS off of work when she has a baby? During this time she is paid a percentage of her salary and her job is available to her when those three years are up. Needless to say most women don’t opt to go back to work. Czech women look down on women with children who choose to work. (Heck, they look down on women who have NO children. Or no man. But that is for a different blog.) Most women spend the first three years of their kids lives at home with them. No “Mommy and Me” classes. No socialization for the youngster. And, very little attention paid to things like diet, reading or behavior. The kids spend three years getting what they want when they want it. And then they come to school and it is now YOUR problem. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  2. Czech kids have to change their clothes. A lot. For some reason I still don’t quite understand, Czech kids have about 1275332 changes of clothes for the day. The parents seem to freak out over dirt. They need inside/outside shoes, hats, pants, and shirts. In the winter time it is almost laughable at the amount of clothes you are expected to take off, and then put on a kid in one day.
  3. Your employer will expect you to be a mom, and a babysitter. Oh, and teaching will be fine also. You will be hired as a “teacher” but you will probably be asked to do more than that. If you are not comfortable changing diapers or doing dishes then say so early. You get paid less teaching kids and it is harder work. So set your limits before signing a contract.
  4. Czech kids have HORRID table manners. They lick plates. They drink from soup bowls. They play with their food. Stop this behavior before it goes to far! I have seen adult Czech’s doing the same thing. And speaking of which…
  5. Czechs let their kids pee outside. Where ever they are. It’s gross. I see little kids peeing all over the city. And you know what? Those kids grow up and keep peeing in public. If you’ve been in Prague a week, you know what I am talking about. My kids know that it is not allowed at school. I tell the parents that if their child is in an international school, they need to have some international manners. 
That’s about it. It isn’t all bad. Kids are fun and goofy and silly. I get to color and paint every day. I even get to play with legos. The hardest part of my job is dealing with the parents. And, well they don’t listen any better than their 3 year old.
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