10 February 2014

De Overblijfmoeder: The Aftermath

On Thursday, I went into Little Man's class as "de overblijfmoeder" during lunchtime - something that I was hesitantly looking forward to. Well, I'm happy to say that made it through unscathed.

First, it was nice to find out what goes on in the classroom. We can only find out so much from Little Man about his day - he keeps most of his school activities to himself or can't find the right way to express it in English or Dutch - which is fine since he's only four. But now I know what's expected of him at lunch. There's no talking until the kids have finished all their food, then they have to clean their space before they can draw or read a book until the teacher returns. Since I didn't know any of this prior to my overblijfmoeder stint, this was all rather enlightening. And since Little Man was excited to have me in the room, he was pretty keen to show me things that aren't accessible during the morning drop off and afternoon pick up, which also gave me a better idea of what happens at other times of the day.

The children speak better Dutch than I do (not like it was much of a surprise), but at least I was able to make enough simple sentences that they understood the instructions - though mostly I kept saying, "Ga zitten," (Go sit down) which was effective but almost feels like cheating. Of course, they tested me with little things to see what they could get away with, like when 5 at a time would complain they each "moet plassen" (need to pee) when there was only one child allowed out at a time. But they didn't revolt or lock me out of the classroom, so I'm going to call it a win.

Gulliver's Travels and Other Writings
Considering this is how I envisioned it going,
I'd say the result was rather pleasing.
You can find this copy of Gulliver's Travels here.

I thin the funniest moment for me was when one of the oldest girls in the class came up to me and told me that Little Man doesn't always speak Dutch. I explained that we come from America and speak English at home, which sparked a lot of excitement. The girl very proudly told me she could count in English, and as she started counting she was suddenly joined by a chorus of other little voices making the count up to 12 (at which point they all petered out).

So I didn't have much to worry about, and I'm glad of it. My language skills are decent enough to keep 30 small children in check for 30 minutes, and I feel like that's an accomplishment for how far I'm come since starting Dutch lessons last March. Of course, there's still a long way to go, and I'm not sure that I could last much longer than I did or do as well with an older group of kids, but it's a start. And we all have to start somewhere, even if it's just telling someone else to "ga zitten."

18 comments:

  1. Hey, ga zitten is a phrase they probably need to hear quite often! ;) glad to hear you survived the day and had some fun. I think even a classroom full of American. 4 year olds would be daunting!

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  2. Hooray! I am so happy that it all worked out and I agree with Shannon that to me even a classroom of American kids sounds daunting!

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  3. It was fun, but I was reminded why I went into secondary ed and not early childhood ed... and the language doesn't matter ;)

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  4. It helped it was only half an hour, too! =)

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  5. Ha! Thanks you for 'ga zitten'!!! I can use that at home! Glad it went well. You are much braver than I, and clearly you speak/understand more Dutch than I do. Brody's classmates giggle when I talk to them, but meh. What can you do. Way to go!

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  6. Well done - it sounds like you did really well! It is very brave of you as it is not a native language. I don't mind a class full of children (did it for ten years) but I would be very anxious if it was not in my native tongue! Kudos to you!

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  7. Thanks! I'm glad it went well, too. With some of the other language goofs I've made in front of the teachers I'm happy that this wasn't one of them!
    And another good one is "Niet Doen!" ;)

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  8. Thanks! I'm so happy it went well, too. The language difference is a bit scary for sure - but at least kids are kids everywhere =)

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  9. WOWWWWEEE what a women. I am so proud of you - big loves

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  10. Aww, those kids counting to 12 in English must hve been so cute!

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  11. It really was! I'd be interested to know where they all learned it from - maybe Dora the Explorer (she speaks Dutch and English here)? But very fun to watch them all "show off" =)
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Wow you're so awesome! I'm also so impressed at how well the kids behave. Thanks for linking up again!

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  13. Aww, thanks! I'm impressed too. I think because I'm somebody's mom helps me out in this case =)
    Thanks for hosting!

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  14. I enjoyed reading this post. Though a normal thing here, i never heard or thought about how it might be for an expat. I think its very brave of you to do it. I hope you continue doing it, its a great way to integrate and learn dutch.

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  15. Thanks, it is a good way to get to know the language. It certainly helps with the confidence since the children use simpler language and aren't bothered by grammatical mistakes. And Little Man has friends over which also helps - it forces me to continue using Dutch without switching back to English!

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  16. Go you! That sounds like an achievement and a half to celebrate! I find it enough to have one of my sons' friends back at our house for lunch, let alone a group of double figures in the classroom!!

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    Replies
    1. It was quite the achievement! I remember being exhausted the rest of the day, though!

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