Lasse has had a nap after lunch. Now the two-year-old boy enters the room, where the other children who did not sleep or who woke up earlier are playing. His face is radiant – Lasse’s here! What a great feeling: I’m here, I’m right now the most important and the best, and I belong here. He is bubbling with confidence in life and his environment. Lasse’s wordless communication expresses his unity with the world and his powerful spirit of enterprise. This example shows that communication comprises much more than language. Even the youngest people communicate very intensely with us, even before they’re able to speak. We perceive their non-verbal signals and respond to them. Here, the trusting relationship between child and teacher is a key for language development. When we change diapers, it’s a great occasion to talk to the children and to describe what we are doing. We nurture language development in German and English by telling tales and inventing stories, by reading to the children and letting them recount the stories, by puzzles and rhymes, by singing together, by dancing or rhythmic games, by active listening, by joint planning, conducting and designing projects or play situations. In daily life we keep creating occasions to speak, in order to motivate the children to talk. It’s imperative to us that the children can express themselves freely. A friendly way of talking is very important in this respect. As in the other fields of education, the acquisition of communicative abilities and its nurturing happens playfully and unconsciously for the children. The children’s “mistakes” are not immediately corrected, but the teacher will repeat the expression grammatically correctly. The older children learn in groups where everybody has the same rights and the obligation to resolve controversies with the help of words or gestures and without shouting and fighting. Especially for children who cannot yet express themselves in a verbally correct way, body language is of high importance. In order to face the children respectfully and – in the true meaning of the word – understandingly, it is important to interpret their signals correctly and to understand their message. The children watch how we read, write and read aloud. Due to their budding curiosity, they will at some point start to find interest in the written word. In this case they will be stimulated by the materials of Maria Montessori and begin to “grasp” the written word. We teachers take the time to listen to the children, we demonstrate our interest by asking questions and we motivate them to express themselves verbally. In the morning circle the children have the opportunity to tell their group what makes them tick, what makes them angry or what they experienced during the weekend. That’s an important preparation for school. Every child in our groups may speak up, but he/she is not required to. We will always invite him/her to get in touch with us and the other children by language, mimics and gestures. Role-playing is a good example for unconscious acquisition of language skills. During the role-play, the children imitate different persons by performing their actions, movements or expressions. In doing so they practice expressing themselves, but at the same time they learn to understand their counterpart. The role-play can be explained as a complex language play. By orienting themselves in their play and language conduct on the acted persons, they not only put on a satisfying act, but they also continuously improve their language skills. We stimulate role-plays by preparation of costumes for disguise, shops, etc. and give the children space for undisturbed role-plays. They reenact daily situations they have experienced, as well as what they have seen on television shows.
It’s Valentino’s birthday. Today he is three years old. The children sit in the morning circle and view pictures of Valentino as a baby, pictures of his first birthday, when he was still very small, then of his second birthday, when he was still much smaller than today. One can clearly see how Valentino has grown each year, and now he’s now such a big boy. The children think about their own age – two or three or already four years old, i.e. younger, of the same age or even a bit older than the birthday boy. This shows that we encounter mathematics in all spheres of life. In the daily routine at the kita we use mathematics in our daily activities, during joint tidying up, by allocating and sorting, by counting the children in the morning circle or during excursions by watching the environment – all these activities are done in both German and in English. We teach the recognition and naming of simple forms such as circle, triangle, square and rectangle in our group rooms as well as outdoors. Furthermore, the recognition and naming of spatial relationships of objects and people, such as right – left, above – below, in front – behind – between are important elements. The foundations for mathematical thinking are developed during the first years of life. The child makes his/her first experiences with time and space, but also with mathematical operations such as measuring, estimating, arranging and comparing. The educational field of fundamental mathematical experiences comprises et al. experiences in dealing with daily life objects and things and their characteristics such as form, color, size and weight, which a child can understand and classify, experiences with numbers in all scales, experiences in dealing with time, geometric and spatial experiences. With the so-called “numeric sticks”, the children learn to understand that each number is represented by a stick with corresponding length. They can place the sticks in numerical order and see that one is smaller than ten. The corresponding numbers additionally give the children a visual impression of each number. Apart from using them for the illustration and classification of numbers, we also use the sticks to measure the children. Valentino may lie down beside the sticks to show how long he has become. We make sure to do this on birthdays which are organized and celebrated according to the Montessori concept. This measuring is an important element to make it understandable for the children how small they were at their birth and how tall they have become now on their birthday. Fundamental mathematical experiences are mostly acquired unconsciously in playing. The children learn to understand that there are different shapes and learn to name them during playtime. Mathematics are also utilized and nurtured in the circle game and counting-out rhymes. Mathematics helps the children to orient themselves in the world, to systemize it and to relate to reliable sizes: numbers, the clock, the seven days of the week, the circle, the distance. The earlier the children are able to get access to mathematics, the easier it is for them later to make practical use of those acquired competences.
Time U3 Ü3
08.45 Breakfast together Breakfast together
09.30 Morning circle Morning circle
10.00 Free game Free game
10.30 Play outside when the weather permits Activities in the field of music,creativity, etc. on the upcoming topics and projects
11.00 Having lunch
11.30 Nap Play outside when the weather permits
12.30 Having lunch
13.00 "Silent hour" - "Rest time"
- Get up, get dressed, have a small snack All children have the opportunity to rest or (Vesper) for the crèche children sleep.
13.45 Stories are told (German / English) and music is played for relaxation.
14.00 Free game Preschool, project, freelance work
14.45 Sing songs / read aloud Sing songs / read aloud
15.00 Small snack (Vesper)
15.30 Play outside when the weather permits Play outside when the weather permits
16.15 - end Clean up and play freely in a group
Handling of the youngest The groups for the one to two year old children contain a maximum of eight children looked after by two teachers. The rooms, the furniture and the food are adapted to their age-specific needs, both motor and cognitive. After lunch, they have the opportunity to sleep, which most children usually do. For this nap, the children can bring familiar things from home, which give them the necessary feeling of security. Those who wake up early may play in another room until all the others have woken up. Mixing of ages in group for older children During the third year of age, the children gradually grow into the group of older children. At Kiddies Daycare this also means a change of environment to Kiddies Dayschool. We undertake this change after consulting with the parents, and we prepare for it carefully with joint activities and mutual visits. Older children will adopt the young newcomers, which allows the older children to learn to guide and care for others. By mixing children of different ages, we can strengthen the individualization of our academic preschool work. Our experiences in working with mixed age groups shows that the smaller children benefit from the chance to observe and emulate the independence of the older children, which in turn boosts the self-confidence of the older ones. It also provides the older children with an opportunity to connect with the younger children in order to avoid being overburdened by the on-going competition of children of the same age. Therefore differences in development are experienced daily by the children within the group. They learn how to deal with these differences, to support each other and ask for advice from each other. That's good preparation for the daily routine at school.
In this method which is applied according to the principle “one language one person”, one teacher will strictly speak English in the group, while another will only speak German. We maintain this practice until the child’s entry into elementary school. The teachers whose native language is German are of course also able to understand English, so that all the children may address them in either English or German. That way we ensure that the children can be absolutely sure that they are being understood. No child in our daycare centers is forced to speak German or to participate in the German language activities. Each language is taught by “contextualization”, which embeds the language in action. The spoken word is supported by actions, gestures and pointing. Therefore the children learn the language as related to a situation, exactly how they picked up their native language. With the Immersion Method we generate a high intensity of the English and German languages and teach them suitably for children playfully and without stress, because no explanation, correction or exercising is necessary. That way we make sure that no child is overburdened and that each child learns at his/her own pace. We additionally support this process by introducing German and English language materials, as well as corresponding reading matters in our age-based book corners which we have installed at all our kitas. For us phrases like, “Claudi, ich will kein rain pants anziehen” are, despite its imperfection, a pleasant indication that a child has acquired an active ability to express him/herself in the new language. The teacher will repeat this sentence once again and correctly use the corresponding German word “keine Regenhose” before responding to the individual request of the child. A further component for supporting language development is an early musical education. Here we use the internationally acknowledged method “Music together” which was developed for children from birth to the age of seven. It is based on scientific research and is adapted to the mental and psychological development of small children. The basic theory of the Music Together program asserts that each child is musical. All children can learn to sing melodies and keep time, and they’re therefore introduced at the earliest age to the music of our cultural area. Language activities such as listening to and imitating sounds, repeating words and phrases in speaking and singing, and later storytelling, increase the children’s language competence. Their physical development is supported by free dance, finger games and songs accompanied by movements. The sharing of instruments and the recurring rituals support the social and emotional development of the children. Various activities such as counting, balancing, beating a regular time and playing music support the cognitive development of the children. For children at an early age the program is also very useful for teaching German, because it includes movement and fun. At this age positive experiences are the foundation of all learning. While the children listen to music, play instruments or dance, they “absorb” the foreign language. It doesn’t take long until they start singing along and following the German instructions of the teacher. Gradually the vocabulary is accumulated and an interest in the German language develops naturally.
In a preliminary conversation we discuss all organizational issues, possible fears of the parents and particularities of the child. In this conversation the parents also receive a manual on the guidelines of the Berlin Senate for Education, Science and Research, which describes the process of familiarization and which underlines the importance of a “gentle familiarization”. The parents themselves don’t play an active role during familiarization. Their sheer presence and their own positive attitude to the new environment are enough to create a “nest”, a “safe haven” for the child if he/she feels overburdened. As long as the mother, father or another familiar person sits quietly, but attentively in a corner of the room watching the child, this is all he/she needs. Especially in an unfamiliar environment, the presence of a “bonding person” for the child is indispensable during the initial period. The teachers offer many different activities to the children to connect with them, such as reading from books to the children, finger games or the singing of songs. They also try to respond to the individual special interests of the child. If the children don’t accept these offers and initially would like to observe the new environment, we respect this need of the child. The familiarization to the kindergarten is an active process of adaptation and learning for the children. Getting familiar with the teachers is of fundamental importance so that the children will feel at home with us. Only this foundation will give the child the secure basis, which is absolutely necessary for his/her learning and feeling of well-being in the new environment. The familiarization will be successfully concluded when the child fully accepts the teacher as an attachment figure, when he/she participates happily and calmly in the proceedings within the group and when he/she accepts comforting by the teacher. The duration of the familiarization process varies with each child.
We therefore consider communication with the parents on a regular basis about everything concerning the daily routine of their children at the daycare center, like their individual development, but also about events and parties, as decisive for a successful and continuous education work. Apart from short conversations when the children are brought to the kita or picked up, there is the opportunity for a parent-teacher conversation at any time if necessary. The kita directors offer regular hours for appointments, but if necessary individual appointments can be arranged. In general, there will be a conversation about each child’s development at least once a year. We invite all guardians to group parents-teacher talks twice a year, where the academic situation and upcoming projects are discussed. Furthermore, we offer regular general parent-teacher talks about special subjects, such as “healthy nutrition”, “language development” etc. For new kita children we offer a parent-teacher talk before the start of familiarization, which has proven very successful. In a joint conversation we can thus dispel possible insecurities. At the end of your children’s “kita career”, we organize a highly welcomed school parent-teacher talk, where we supply extensive information regarding the choices of schools for your children. Several celebrations during the kita year offer additional possibilities for an unofficial exchange between parents and teachers. In addition, we are using the state-approved online software Kigaroo, which enables parents and kitas to communicate via a parents’ app for smartphones or a log-in to the internet. By keeping regular contact with the parents, we do hope to be able to give the children the highest possible feeling of security, because when the parents feel secure, the children do as well.
None of these fields can be looked at and nurtured individually, they are all connected. Activities such as kneading clay build not only a child’s fine motor skills, but also the imagination, self-confidence and social-emotional behavior. Each independent action, which we encourage every day, is a good preparation for the daily routine at school, which the children later will have to master for themselves. In addition to this standard, which we regard as self-evident, we offer an at least twice weekly systematic school preparation session for the children who are in their last year before school entry. This preparation focusses on the ability to concentrate and basic competence in arithmetic, writing and reading. Again, it is important for them to work without pressure. Pleasant anticipation is the greatest joy – we would like to bid farewell to the children with exactly this feeling. By cooperating with the local elementary schools we don’t only “play” school with the children, but we visit elementary schools in the neighborhood in order to prepare for their transition, to get to know without fear, the traffic situation and to support a positive attitude to this new part of life.
Takumi races across the field with a dancing kite and is followed by a crowd of enthusiastic kite runners. The need to move brings energy to the daily routine at the kitas. 4-year-old Takumi is letting off steam and uses all his running power to keep the kite in the air, as well to keep possession of the kite, because he knows if it tumbles to the ground, he will have to surrender the kite to one of the other runners. He feels the exertion of running, he feels the wind on his face and in his hair, he concentrates on the stretch in front of him, he feels the other kite runners at his back. Despite his efforts, the kite ultimately hits the ground. Takumi is heated, breathless and excited from exertion and competition. He is happy about his success, to have been able to keep the kite for so long, even though he is of course a little sad, to have to give it up now. Takumi is a boy, whose joy of movement and need for peace are well balanced. He is rather quiet, very observant, and is able to focus on the activity at hand. He also loves running, enjoys movement – but ball games don’t attract him so much. The soccer players must battle without him. This example shows the whole spectrum of physical and mental perceptions and emotional experiences that children have when they are moving. They get to know and expand their physical possibilities; they learn what they enjoy and what they’re good at. They also learn to express and promote their own interests during negotiations with the other children. They exercise physical control, they learn, as in this case, to master the flight of the kite, they realize that they are getting better the more they practice. During the morning circle the children can talk about their experiences with kites, about the places where they let them fly, with whom and when. From this example, they can learn the ideal conditions for kite flying: strong wind in autumn in wide open spaces like harvested fields, and they can learn how to build a kite. This example shows that very often several educational fields are interconnected – i.e. this situation deals at the same time with communication, social life, as well as fundamental experiences with science and technology. Children individually experience physical activity and health, and it’s important that these early experiences are competently accompanied by the teachers. Therefore, personal competence, social and functional competence, as well as competences of didactic learning are continuously acquired and developed during the daily kita routine in various situations.
Ben is new at the kita. He is three years old and has dark skin. When the children get ready for an excursion and are asked to pair up and take each other’s hand, five-year-old Jakob peers at Ben. The teacher detects a certain uneasiness in his eyes and suspects that Jakob has a hint of fear of contact. During the next morning circle the teacher picks up the subject of “differences” and talks about the different skin colors of the children. They discuss how the color gets into the skin. They compare the colors of their own skin, eyes and hair with those of the others, and notice how different these can be. They play a game, where they stand in a circle and the teacher asks all the children with blue eyes to move to the center. The other children who remain outside the circle clap. Then the teacher tells all children wearing red trousers to come to the center, the others clap. Next all children who have an older brother are asked to come to the center, etc. That way all the children realize that everybody will be at the center at least once and that his uniqueness is something great. Day nursery and kitas represent our society’s diversity. The children may come from different family cultures with very diverse ideas and backgrounds. It’s important that the children learn to accept differences. A precondition for that is the development of a healthy self-confidence, the competence to become conscious of one’s feelings and needs, to be able to express those, as well as the perception of one’s own familial and cultural identity. The earlier the children learn that it’s not bad if something is different from their own life, but simply different and equally good, the more open they will be for something different and unknown. Children realize at a very young age that there are differences. It is our task to point these differences out and to discuss them with the children. They also learn that in the daily routine at the kita there might be rules and norms that differ from those in their own family, and they develop an understanding of why this is. Thus, they develop a differentiated perceptiveness for social conditions, personal relationships and an understanding that rules are useful for a respectful and peaceful relationship with each other. The children learn to treat their counterpart, with all his/her differences, with respect and esteem, and they develop the ability to reflect and be sensitive both about their own behavior as well as the behavior of others.
Too frequent explanations or admonishments may damage the child’s self-image. We want to gently guide each child to individual development and in the acquisition of skills in all fields of daily life. We want to shape early childhood education as positively, sustainably and completely as possible. Another important consideration in our daily academic work is the topic of diversity. In Germany and especially in Berlin we have a very diverse population. There is a wonderful variety of nationalities, ethnic groups and cultures. There are also of course, individual differences in social background, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and physical constitution. In order to make sure that our social life continues on a peaceful and constructive path, we consider it to be of the highest importance that differences are not noted as something negative, but are welcomed as positive and precious, and that small children do not start developing a mentality of discrimination. At Kiddies, we want to help build a fundamental attitude in the children to discover commonalities and differences without bias. A strong individual identity is the pre-condition for empathy in view of differences, for critical understanding of prejudices and for commitment against injustice against oneself or against others. In our daycare centers, we want to achieve this strong personal identity for each child with his/her individual physical and psychological possibilities by using the principle of inclusion. Inclusion is based on the assumption that each human being is different and that every person may participate in shaping daily life and take part in decision-making according to their own abilities. For us it’s imperative that each child in his/her individual constitution is an equal member of the kita-community.
The foundation of our educational structure is a situation-oriented approach.
According to the insights of the Danish family therapist Jesper Juul, children learn best by copying, i.e. by watching and trying out independently.
We also follow Maria Montessori’s educational model. The training of respectful treating one another and “the help to do it yourself” (Maria Montessori) shall develop the self-reliance of the children, but also teach cooperation with others and thus strengthen the preparation for the future.
It is our vision that the children who are being looked after in our daycare centers will grow up to be self-confident, sensitive, committed and healthy school children.
The Berlin Education Program is the foundation for our daily work at the kitas.
It lists the following fields of education:
• Body, Movement, Health
• Social and cultural life
• Communication: Languages, culture of the written word and media
• Fundamentals of mathematics
• Fundamentals of science and technology
These different fields almost always interconnect, and during the daily activities different educational goals will be brought to the forefront. Naturally, the children themselves continuously develop in all fields. At times one field might be in sharper focus, which we will then pay special attention to. According to our experience, everything happening in the kita life will ultimately and simultaneously nurture the different fields and competencies of the children. As examples for all seven fields of education we would like to give you a deeper insight in our practices in the four fields of 1. Body, Movement and Health, 2. Social and cultural life, 3. Communication and 4. Fundamentals of mathematics.
Body, Movement, Health
Social & Cultural Life
Languages, The culture of the written word & Media
Fundamental Mathematical Experiences
A consistent daily routine is of high importance for the achievement of educational goals and for the children’s sense of security.
A reliable time structure gives the children security and a feeling of being cared for.
In this chart we present you a possible daily routine, which may of course vary according to age, day of the week and group.
Apart from these daily routines, there will be sports and music once a week in the morning. Regular excursions of the individual groups are planned for longer periods, and the parents will be notified in due time.
We also organize projects for all the groups according to the season, and we have parties, e.g. at Carnival, Halloween, Christmas, etc. which add structure to the year and offer diversion.
Besides the fixed daily and weekly routines, there are rules in each group, which were developed specifically together with the children.
These are rules about the morning circle, the welcoming of new children, the joint tidying up of the group rooms, clearing the tables after the joint breakfast and lunch.
These are important elements in teaching teamwork and respect for community.
The most important precondition for education is a consistent bond.
Therefore we regard the individual familiarization as fundamentally important.
During this period each child has the opportunity to build trust in one of several teachers and to experience continuity.
Only securely bonded children have enough self-confidence to face cognitively challenging and/or problematic situations and not to give up prematurely.
Younger & Older Children
At Kiddies Family we lovingly look after and individually nurture the children starting from the age of nine months old.
We are fully aware that the care for children of this age demands a high degree of responsibility.
Therefore, for children under three years old we consciously offer homogeneous age groups and a high degree of bonding continuity and security by a low child: teacher ratio.
Preparation Elementary School
Technically speaking the entire time at the kita is “pre-school education”.
It’s a holistic education, which comprises all fields of development/competences (motor, social, cognitive and practical).
Partnership with Parents
A constructive, open and trusting cooperation with the parents is indispensable as a precondition and foundation of our work.
The acceptance of our concepts by the parents is of fundamental importance for a successful daily routine at the kita for the children in our care.
Transparency and steady communication shall create a strong basis for this work.
The bilingual orientation at Kiddies Family is one of the most important pillars of our concept.
The children sing, play and speak in German and in English by following the example of the native speaking teachers.
By means of this full immersion method (language bath) they can learn to speak and understand a foreign language by playing and by using it in their daily life.