You should now be pretty clued up about the Childcare project, what you will be doing, who you will be with and finally what you might need to bring with you; bet you think you are done right??
I was thinking about any small hints and tips that might help you whilst on Childcare; needless to say I thought of a few.
Genga creating his very own universe, all with a few coloured plastic bricks!
Kids are simple yet complex creatures who flit from being wildly happy to experiencing the end of the world, all in the space of 10 minuets. Genga, the boy in the picture above, doesn’t see these blocks he sees them as a gun, he sees them as the legs of a giraffe and the worlds tallest building and shortly after this picture was taken another boy, P, came over and destroyed his gun, giraffe legs and worlds tallest building and I can tell you with all the confidence in the world that, in that moment, according to Gengas’ tears, that it was the end of the world; this was then alleviated a few moments later by a bop to P’s head and all was well in the world. This can be a bit daunting for people who haven’t spent a large amount of time with Children before so my first tip to you is…………………………………. Expect everything and anything.
Including, snot, dirt, mud, bugs and fluff to appear in your pockets, hair, shoes and your hands at any one time 😀
Genga here would be my best friend one day and then appear to not even know me the next; typical boy!
You will see kids going from being your best friend one day to not even noticing your presence the next; don’t be offended, they are kids and they see you as their toys and every kid changes their minds about their toys every other day; or maybe they just don’t like you…………
Well the kids do.
That’s why kids freak me out a little as they know things I don’t know and here they know things in a different language that I don’t know.
Any whom! Moving swiftly on.
Another thing you have to expect when you turn up every morning is that you are a source of entertainment for the kids we have, they love watching you, playing with you and most of all playing ON you. I can’t ever imagine why Thai people would ever need a Chiropractor when they have kids like ours. You will be sore, battered and bruised at the end of the day but it will totally be worth it to know that you made one child happy for the day.
One of the new boys with our volunteer Nicola, he is crying his eyes out because Nam jokingly told him that she was taking Nicola home now; I have never seen any child as sad as he was in that moment
Something else you have to be prepared for is the crying. For example today, me and Nam went to visit the Childcare volunteers and take some new photos and all I heard from outside was the anguished cries of babes. Needless to say there were lots of new children starting today, it was also the first day back after the Summer break so many children didn’t want to leave their parents. There won’t be a day where I can promise you that the kids won’t cry as they probably will. One will hit another, one will fall over, one will be too hot, one will be hungry, one will be thirsty. There are a multitude of reasons why children cry so expect to see tears during your time at Wat Tung; problems that bring tears however, are normally solved with cuddles, lots and lots of cuddles.
This photo was taken purely because I knew it was the way, along with tight, loving cuddles, to make Lee-oo smile again. She suffers from slight autism and has learning difficulties so is often left out by the other children; things just got too much for her that day and she looked to me for comfort. That is what volunteers are for, to improve the lives and learning experiences of these wonderful children.
Volunteers are always surprised by the differences in the way that children are brought up here, for example, in England if a child falls over and hurts them self, the natural reaction of most is to rush to see if they are OK and attend to any wounds that may have occurred. In Thailand this is not the way; children are much tougher here, they can jump off a bench or wall their own height, fall and land rather splendidly without a care in the world. They can bang their heads, fall over, be punched by another child or fall out of a window but they just bounce back, we don’t fuss children in Thailand, we leave them to deal with it, get up, brush themselves off and carry on.
This is Em, moments after falling from a table higher than he was. There are no signs of tears just a strong urge to curl up in my lap and watch ‘How To Train Your Dragon’
Another difference is smacking. Now smacking is illegal in most countries, including the States, the UK and Thailand, however it is something that happens. There may well be times were a teacher feels the need to discipline a child with a certain amount of force; as much as this may not be the way for your own household, home or childcare establishment it often is here. Smacking happens, it isn’t anything crazy forceful and is used as a last resort but I don’t want you to build an idea of how discipline is done in Thailand from what you know at home; so just be aware that you may, or may not, at some point see smacking, it is rarely used but I just want to let you guys know before you get out here and possibly get the wrong idea.
One more huge difference is the level of violence the children use towards each other. Fighting is the national sport in Thailand and is watched and supported by pretty much every Thai, they are brought up to look after and handle themselves and fighting is the way that they do this. The boys at Childcare all want to be the next Tony Jaa (a world famous Muay Thai actor from Surin) or Jet Lee, because of this they fight, a lot. Everyday the boys will spar with each other it isn’t malicious or vengeful and if it turns to more than playing the boys normally sort it out between themselves or they will come to you to mediate. Just go with it, they will hit as hard as they get and you may be the subject of one or two punches if you try to split up the World Champion Muay Thai fight that seems to happen every day.
This new face had no idea she was not supposed to be sitting on the table to eat her lunch until I told her in Thai to sit down on the bench properly. Even the smallest Thai can go very, very far
Something that a lot of volunteers have difficulty with is making themselves understood by the children, now they are normally between 1 and 5 so they don’t speak English yet, to remedy this I would suggest you learn a few choice phrases to help you whilst you are on project and want to assert yourself.
The first we will look at is…………………
No in Thai is pronounced as ‘Mai’ try saying ‘m’–‘eye’
Do it, do it now!
There you go, very good!
The next is……………
‘Chi’ is the way to say ‘yes’ in Thai, try saying ‘ch’–eye’
‘Dee Mak’ pronounced ‘dee’–‘mark’, and this means ‘very good’
Finally, for if you do need to discipline a child or respond with a negative response then your go to phrase should be……..
It literally means ‘no good’ and is pronounced as ‘m’–‘eye’ ‘dee’
These four phrases can be invaluable whilst on project and are all super easy to say and remember; once you learn them and have the confidence to use them you will feel amazing. I remember the first time I successfully used Thai to stop Mr Lee giving me a bug, I felt a huge feeling of satisfaction and being able to be understood is so wonderful. The children at childcare know that you are different to them but they don’t understand why that means that you don’t speak Thai, so being able to communicate with them this little bit will improve the experience for not only you but also with the kids as well.
I think that might be it, yep, pretty sure, anything I have forgotten just take as a surprise present from the children to you. And who doesn’t like surprises right???
If you haven’t yet booked your project with us but just can’t resist the snot and dirt then you should check out the Starfish Website, Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page or the Starfish Tumblr pages; there you will find all the contact and project info you will need to sign up.
If you want a few more pictures from the kids first day back at Childcare and the progress of the DREAM Garden then you need to be looking at my Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages where I post a few times a day.
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto