My thoughts on doing an English part time job in Tokyo
What is the difference between school teacher and babysitter?
When I arrived in Japan, I didn’t have any formal training in regards to teaching English to children or with general childcare but I did have a personal experience that came from helping my older sister raise my three nieces (all under the age of 5). Babysitting, as opposed to teaching, is flexible in its approach – there are no timelines or specific tasks you need to complete and instead of ‘teaching’ the child a foreign language, you’re naturally immersing them in it, much like you would with the children in your own families back home.
I worked with children between the ages of 6 – 8 months. Some might think it’s difficult – they can’t talk, so you can’t measure their progress which can lead to doubt about whether you’re doing it right or not. To be honest, children that young are sponges and they understand a lot more than you think. After a few sessions with one child, anytime I would say ‘look’ and point, he would look or if I said ‘let go’ and tugged lightly on the object, he’d let go. Another child would pause briefly if I said ‘stop’ and look at me mid-crawl.
Teaching older children at the small pre-school I worked at was definitely easier as they were old enough to talk and could repeat with enough prompting so you could see their progress easily.
How you behaved if baby cries or gets tantrum?
I am no stranger to crying babies and find them fairly easy to deal with. They either want a bottle, a nappy change or they’re really, really tired. The key is to stay calm and find out what’s wrong by process of elimination – if they’re dry and not hungry, then I’d hold them and walk around the room, either with some baby music on or singing myself (although I’m a terrible singer) and eventually they stop or fall asleep. Patience is something you need to have in spades, especially if the baby takes time to calm down.
Although I never had tantrums with children from Little Hug (they were all far too young for it), I did do private babysitting for a friend who had a little girl that’d entered her ‘Terrible Twos’. When she had a tantrum, I would give her five minutes to get it out of her system. Again, you need to be patient and although it’s very difficult to do, you can’t laugh. Depending on what set her off, if she passed that five-minute mark, I’d sit her on my lap and rock her and in a mixture of English (and bad Japanese) I’d try to calm her down. She’d get hot and sweaty so I had a cool wet cloth at hand to wipe her face and a fan close by to cool her down a bit. When the tantrum finally finished, I’d always give her a glass of water or juice to re-hydrate and soothe her throat.
I really enjoyed working for Little Hug – the families I was assigned to were warm and I felt welcomed and valued. The babies were all adorable and I will always treasure the time I spent with them. I only wish I’d had more time to watch them grow into little independent people!
Message written by a British babysitter, who worked with Little Hug in 2018. She was a great entertainer for children. Thank you very much for assisting us!