Kindergarten in Cambodia

First month of working as kindergarten teacher in Phnom Penh is over. It was fun but also a stressful month as my kids had to write Exams and I had to write all their reports…but let’s start from the beginning.

I started to work at CIAPP International School end of May with some class observations and Nikki the previous teacher of my class showed and explained me everything I had to know. From June,4th on I was on my own…kind of, thankfully I had two Teaching Assisstants who could help me out once in a while and make everything way smoother. Thanks at this point to Nhong and Chandy! Because beeing completely alone with 24 three to five year old kids is NOT easy 🙂

All-in-all kindergartening in Cambodia is way different from Germany. And it was really interesting to see what they expect here from these young little kids. While german kids are playing with their friends, sing songs and do crafts are cambodian kids learning the ABC, Vocabularys, Math…in general counting from 1-20 and also writing letters and numbers. Beside of that they learn the basic colours and shapes as well as different sience themes (animals, plant, body parts, …) and in general they learn a new language – English. In between they have classes in sports and swimming and sure they also have playtime every day.

It’s amazing to see that some of the three year olds are really able to write the whole alphabeth on their own. On the other hand I think they lose their childhood really early. From 5 latest 6 years on they start to study full-time. Means half day English and half day Khmer and some of them even go to different schools for that.

After each quarter they write an Exam with 5 Topics (Writing, Numbers, Phonics, ESL and Social Studies) and if the result is below 70% at the end of the school year they have to repeat the class – hard life! They also have homework around three times a week but if they don’t do it nothing happens beside of the fact that they’ll be asked why they didn’t do it.

The kinda strange thing is what some of the parents except from school. In Germany it is normal that a kid once it’s enrolled to kindergarten/school is going there every day (IN TIME)…here in Cambodia -even if they pay really a lot of money as school fee- in the end the kids decide if they are going to kindergarten or not. Some of them just say in the morning “I don’t want to” and that’s enough that the parents keep them at home. On the other hand some parents expect that the kids are learning social skills as well as respect and good behaviour while they at home just spoil them and allow everything. I think I don’t have to explain that this is not working out, at least not all the time. But some of the children really learn to separete between school and home and while they are doing at home whatever they want (even hitting their parents) they are in school well behaved and easy to handle.

Sometimes I just feel bad for some of my kids cause the acting of the parents is a bad influence for their future life. Every kid has to learn to follow rules and to respect adults no matter if it’s the teacher or the parents. It’s one of the problems the whole Khmer Rouge Regime brought up…the most of the grandparents where killed and so there’s no one who could explain how to deal with a child. Plus the most of the parents grew up in poverty and now as they have the money the fullfill their kids every single wish to let them have a better life.

But all in all I really enjoyed the time teaching my class and going to work again.I’m really happy about this experience and I’m looking forward to teach my class next school year in K4 (second year of Kindergarten).

Now I have summer holidays and will enjoy my first trip to africa while some of my colleagues and kiddies are going to summer school. And from end of august on the new school year starts and I’m ready for the new challenge!

 

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