segunda-feira, 9 de janeiro de 2012

How it all began

In 2003 some dear friends asked me to teach their children English.  They suggested that a whole afternoon would be more practical for them as most of the English courses were twice a week which made it difficult for parents who were working.   I had, up until then, been teaching privately on a one to one basis but I too thought the idea interesting.  I also wanted my two daughters to learn to read and write well in English and I imagined them participating in the group.  I also thought that a whole afternoon would be almost like an immersion course and that I would have time to use English as a basis for various other activities too.

A starting point
I started with 5 children in a small classroom in my house.  All the children came from the same school, Escola Waldorf, Anabá. This meant, in my mind, that I would have to understand the pedagogy and methodology of Waldorf teaching so that I could offer classes that ‘fitted’ both the children and the parents.  This is a life learning task, because as you may know, the intuitive of Waldorf education is also self education both as a parent and as an adult.  We, my husband and I, put our children in such a school because we wanted out children to truly live their childhood.  To have time to grow and learn, to be recognized as individuals and to be surrounded by excellent teachers, beautiful words and meaningful subjects for life.

Many of my own childhood memories came back to me and as I planned my syllabus for The Secret Garden I included much of what I consider to be part of a true childhood.  All the garden games I had played, the stories I read, the rhymes I knew off by heart and the songs that one never forgets. In fact I discovered that English could be used in all circumstances if it was graded appropriately for each age group.  With the use of up to date material and prior knowledge of linguistics I felt very ready to start this new adventure. I also thought it essential that the children felt happy to spend the afternoon at my house that they felt motivated and interested in what they saw.

Now, years later the school has grown into its own building in the garden.  We have 60 students from 6 to 16, eight groups, five teachers and an administrator.  I continue wanting the children to feel happy here, learning and living the English language.  I am a strong believer that children need time and that early intellectualizing stunts their long term possibilities, cuts back their imagination and produces ‘dead’ adults.  By offering the language to them within playful contexts we enter into their world, we bring true meaning to the tasks while giving them structure and clear ground rules to follow. 

With a strong and competent teaching body I am confident that we are offering a specialized course that combines good English language teaching techniques together with two most essential ingredients in what we do; love and understanding.

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