Our pedagogical work is based on the principles of the situational approach and is part of our everyday life. In view of the constantly and rapidly changing world, a particular goal of this concept is to ensure equal opportunities for all children regardless of their social and cultural background. The aim of our pedagogical work is to enable the children to act independently, in an appropriate manner, and in the interests of the community. The focus is always on the current life situation of the children and their families.
Our idea of a child
Children are provided with their own rights from the very beginning. They have wilfulness – expressed by means of self-determination and their desire for freedom – as well as public spirit, and as a part of the community they need and seek for social contacts.
Every child is special and develops in a unique manner. They are designers of their own development and determine independently the necessary steps and their own pace on the basis of their individual development requirements. Children come with a foundation of resources and competencies, which, due to their natural aspiration for development, constantly expand. They are curious and inquisitive. The basic eagerness to learn motivates them to deal actively with themselves and their environment.
Our idea of learning
Learning is a lifelong process and is determined individually by one’s own interests, pace and approach. Children learn from every life situation and by participating in everyday events.
They experience the world with all their senses. They want to understand, test, listen, and watch. Children acquire new information not only by themselves but also in the community. There are great opportunities to learn from and with one another.
Children need a scope that provides both an exciting environment and a stimulus for a successful educational process. Secure attachments ensure the child’s necessary well-being and provide them with enough time and space to get to know themselves and their environment independently.
The pedagogical teaching staff
Our work as pedagogical teaching staff starts with detecting the children’s interests and needs and becoming aware of the individual development stages in order to respond to them adequately and promptly. Together, we create an exciting and challenging environment taking into account the children's worlds and arising relevant social issues. We pay particular attention to encouraging and motivating the children to participate at any time. We want to allow and actively encourage participation. This is why we, as nursery teachers, conceive ourselves as both educators and co-learners and are in constant communication with the children. Thus, we are able to accompany them in their educational process in the best way possible and to provide support. It is important for our pedagogical work that we approach the children with appreciation and empathy in order to establish a profound and reliable relationship with them. This is essential for us (see ‘Berlin Familiarisation Model’). We want to give the children a feeling of stability and security, to be present and tangible to them. However, we also make sure that we give them their necessary freedom and do not restrict them. As teaching staff, we accept all children the way they are and embrace their individuality. In our day care centre, we actively promote equal opportunities and tolerance. We serve as role models for the children and are always genuine towards them. Our work also entails perceiving and encouraging group processes and not only the individual child. An important prerequisite is to involve the parents in the everyday life of our day care centre and to offer an educational and learning partnership. The constant exchange of ideas helps us to understand the children better and enables us to respond to them.
Living environment of the families
The cultural and religious differences in our day care centre are regarded as an enrichment and are taken into account in our daily work. We appreciate the individuality of each family and specifically respond to their individual needs.
Our pedagogical work is based on the education recommendations for day care centres in Rhineland-Palatinate. Legal foundation is still the book VIII of the German Social Code (‘achtes Sozialgesetzbuch’, particularly article 1, 8 and 22 to 26), the Childcare Act of Rhineland-Palatinate (‘Kindertagesstättengesetz Rheinlandpfalz’), the German Child Development Promotion Act (‘Kinderförderungsgesetz’), the German Civil Code (‘Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch’) and the German Basic Law (‘Grundgesetz’).
Berlin Familiarisation Model
The initial days and weeks in the day care centre are the beginning of a new and exciting stage in the life of both children and their parents, as they find themselves immersed in a completely new and unknown environment. However, transitioning from family-life to third-party care also poses a great challenge to every child. They are confronted with a great deal of new experiences, unfamiliar adults, and have to deal with being separated from their parents for the first time. During the first months of their life, all children develop special relationships with the people closest to them – usually their parents. These relationships are called "attachments" or "bonds". In stressful situations in particular (including new environments, unfamiliar people, but also pain, illness, etc.), children need the presence and attention of these "attachment figures" in order to be able to maintain or restore their inner balance. Therefore, when they are confused, most children turn to their attachment figures, seeking comfort or contact. Even children who show no signs of being insecure will greatly benefit if they have an attachment figure with them in an unfamiliar situation. If no attachment figure is present in a situation like this, the child’s behaviour, such as crying or insecurity, caused by irritations or fear may persist for a long time. Starting day care like this would stress the child and may then lead to considerable delays. A stable attachment with the still " unfamiliar" nursery teacher can only develop through gradual integration and with the help of a trusted attachment figure.
The goal of a successful familiarization is that the children realize they can say goodbye to their parents without feeling stressed. They feel safe and comfortable and look forward to their day at the day care centre. The children know their parents will come back to pick them up. In order to achieve this goal, the process should be accompanied by the child’s parents with the focus placed on establishing an attachment and saying goodbye, but above all on settling in. The duration of the settling-in period depends on the individual child. Transitional objects such as cuddly toys or other toys can be helpful during this process as can introducing a ritual for saying goodbye.
Physical activity plays a very important role in the child’s development. Children express their joy of living and vitality through physical activity. The kindergarten period represents a period of steady motor development. During this period, physical activity is one of the most important needs of a child. Physical and mental health, as well as comprehensive cognitive, social, emotional, motor and language development are promoted by physical activity. Therefore, various experiences of movement are essential prerequisites for a holistic development. Children actively acquire a wide range of knowledge about themselves and their environment through physical activity and their own actions.
The exercise room and the outside area in our day care centre allow the children to satisfy their needs for physical activity. For this purpose, there is a wide range of freely accessible materials available to the children. The free use of materials stimulates the children’s creativity and thus promotes their competence to solve problems independently. Furthermore, children only learn what they are able to try out and acquire themselves.
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
Children learn about themselves and their physical abilities by experiencing movement. They gain important experiences with their body and their character. This forms the basis of their personal development. The more positively the children think of themselves, the easier it is for them to face and manage new and difficult challenges. Our exercise room and the outside area are educational spaces which enable new experiences. Physical and motor development as well as emotional, social and cognitive development and competence are stimulated and trained by using these areas. By playing movement games together and sharing the equipment and materials, children learn to help each other, to take care of others, to back down but also to speak their mind. This enables them to get to know emotions like joy, exhaustion and anger and develop empathy. As we want to give the children free rein over their creativity, we not only give them the opportunity to participate in planned and guided exercises, but also free physical activities. In order to do so, we use our "movement areas". Movement areas promote independent physical activity as they are very accessible in terms of structure and function. These areas challenge the children in overcoming their own self-imposed boundaries, and encourage them to learn new things and actively explore their environment. These areas also focus on joint activities.
As teaching staff, we take on the role of both supporters and challengers. This means we encourage and support the children. Together with the children we face and overcome challenges and test our limits. By means of well-planned stimuli and activities, the children are offered a wide range of opportunities and movement experiences. In this way, we work towards a holistic development while maintaining the children's original pleasure in movement.
Educational and learning partnerships
Cooperating with the parents as important attachment figures and experts for their children constitutes the basis of our pedagogical work. We view them as partners in regard to the education and care of their children. Hence, we are able to harmonize individual experiences and pedagogical expertise. Whether it is a conversation in passing or a discussion on the child’s development, we are always willing to openly exchange with the parents and our relationship is characterized by mutual trust. This creates a basis for joint reflection and implementing feedback given to us in form of praise, criticism and suggestions for improvement. The parents' committee – representative body of the parents – is involved in all important decisions (such as changes to the concept, major purchases, personnel matters, closing times, etc.) and supports the pedagogical work, for example, by organizing events.
Observation and documentation
We make regular, specific, and documented observations, which are an important part of our pedagogical routine in order to successfully support the children in their individual educational development. On the one hand, they serve as a basis for regular discussions on the child’s development, on the other hand, for planning projects focusing on the children’s interests as well as professional exchange and reflection. All children have a freely accessible portfolio folder documenting their individual course of development and interests. We work together on this folder by adding photos, art, and stories in regard to a child’s education in order to capture memories.