I had the opportunity to spend some time with my daughter in the place that welcomes her every day, the local Kindergarten.
They have the great idea to give the opportunity to all parents fathers and mothers, one at a time to come participate in the life of the kintergarten between 8:30 and 12:00.
this Kindergarten has a particular organization because the children have a group but they have a very important time of freedom where they can go everywhere (in all the authorized spaces). My German is still rudimentary but I could observe the organization and the behaviors of the children. Here is my story about a morning at the Kindergarten.
What is a kindergarten?
I’ll start with a few fundamentals first. The Kindergarten is like a leisure centre or a clever mix between nursery and kindergarten. Let me explain. They have the structure of a school per class, they learn to count, colors, days, weather… But they spend most of their time playing. Here they are better supervised often three referents and a trainee for a class of 23 children. They welcome children from 2 and a half to 6 years old and classes are not by age but all children are mixed. The special feature of this Kindergarten is that it welcomes many children who do not speak a word of German when they arrive. This melting pot of nationalities gives an incredible wealth.
A day at the kindergarten
We arrived in the morning just in time for the welcome circle. The welcome circle is the time between 8:30 and 9:00 when the group meets and begins by saying hello. Then they all sing together, count the number of people present and name those absent before discussing the week’s theme.
This week the theme is air. The main “mistress” places a painted sheet in the middle of the circle. She asks the group what it is and how the drawing was made. It’s blown paint. She then asked them (I believe) which object can serve to blow or inflate.
We really felt the kindness and respect between the children. They listened to each other and those who did not want to participate stayed in their corner quietly and were not forced to take part in the activity.
One might think that the big ones are taking precedence over the small ones, which is not entirely false. Indeed, they know more vocabulary but the little ones also participate.
So they discovered or rediscovered that an air pump was “blowing” and were each able to test it in turn by receiving a little wind on their faces.
Following these discussions, it is time for practice. So the workshop of the day is the blown painting and everyone has got down to it.
Once the workshop is over, each child plays in the group room until about 9:30. Then the bell rings. This announces the beginning of free time. The children must first put on a board where they plan to go and they all rush outside the classroom.
It is during this time from 9:30 to 10:30 that Brotzeit – the snack – is served. The snack is in the form of a buffet where each child decides what he wants to eat and makes his own sandwiches (with round-tipped knives).
The children decide if they want to eat or not, or to go in the group where there is the clay or in the group where there are the legos, or that of the drawings… or even play outside.
Strengths and weaknesses
This time of freedom lasts from 9:30 to 11:30 and the children learn by themselves or thanks to the biggest how to do things.
The facilitators play relatively little with the children and I arrived in a group where children were alone without any facilitator around. But apart from the two negative points (which I brought to the attention of the facilitators), I find it an extra system for several reasons:
Children discover autonomy. I discovered that my daughter was much more independent at school than she is at home. It teaches them to think and make choices.
They know the rules well and respect them. This organization may seem like an absence of rules, but I have noticed that most children put away when they are finished playing, do not mix toys, do not move them from one room to another…
It pushes them to help each other and learn from each other. Talent that I think is indispensable in today’s working world.
It teaches them to listen to their bodies, I am hungry or not, I am tired or not… because in the afternoon they also decide if they want to take a nap.
The little ones are guided as they enter the Kindergarten. They have a referent assigned to them and have the task of showing them each piece and what he can do there until they are ready. And even my daughter, who did not speak or understand German when she arrived, is doing very well. Children’s adaptability is exceptional!
After the time of freedom, around 11:45, the teachers who are in the corridor, then ask the children to go to their group. The grouping is done perfectly and quickly. Then everyone gets into a circle to close the morning. That day, the “ants” group started singing a song. Then they looked at the works made that same morning and tried to see what shape the drawing could represent, a dancer, a rabbit… The teacher announced the menu for the day and then all the children went to wash their hands for the meal.
And then what?
I did not participate in the afternoon but after the meal, the children brush their teeth. They will then lie down to take a nap and then play independently.
I thought it was great to be able to come, especially since my daughter doesn’t tell me much about what’s going on in her school. And the organization being quite different, I found it rather confusing. What I remember most is that my daughter is like a fish in water.
Bis bald 😘
If you want to know more about kindergarten, you can visit the French connection site