Our situational approach means that we view the child and their family as the core element of our childcare concept. It supports equal education and participation rights for all children. A meaningful life serves as the basis for a lifelong learning process. Based on careful observations, we work together with the children to shape their lives in and outside of the day care centre. Our teaching staff takes on the role as being a reliable educational and learning partner to the children. We encourage parents to play an active role in contributing to our everyday life in the day care centre. This gives parents and children a chance to be partners in learning and education.
We decided to base our work on the situational approach as we perceive the living conditions of the children and their families as a starting point for their development. We take our obligation seriously by tending to the individual needs of the children and incorporating them into our teaching concept. The situational approach provides us with the necessary tools to meet our quality standards.
Our educational centres encourage the children to discover, experiment and explore their environment by themselves. They give children the chance to enjoy creative activities on their own. Based on our careful observations, we create and alter spaces together with the children. They serve as places where all the children at the day care centre can spend time together (e.g. the outside area). In order to make use of these spaces independently, children are introduced to them and accompanied by our teaching staff. We agree upon clear rules, which are of great importance in ensuring the safety of the children. Failure to adhere to rules consequently leads to the child being barred from using certain rooms by him or herself.
The children in the day care centre explore the rooms together with the responsible teaching staff. They are gradually allowed to make use of certain areas more and more by themselves (e.g. the corridor). Other facilities (e.g. the gymnasium) can be used under the supervision of children from the mixed-age groups.
Our workshop gives children the chance to express their creativity. Our teaching staff provide introductory workshops (e.g. painting workshop) which teach them different techniques with the aim of enabling the children to use the room by themselves. We focus on the painting process as opposed to the finished product so that children gain confidence in their own skills and the ability to express themselves.
In well-organized boxes, different materials (e.g. wool, sequins, cups, pens, sticks, cardboard, feathers, etc.) are available to the children to have fun with arts and crafts. Tasks involving the use of hammers, files, saws and other tools are carried out at the workbench. The children are introduced to the use of the tools and are given the opportunity to implement their design ideas independently. In doing so, difficulties are overcome and, when necessary, new solutions are found for various challenges with the support of the teaching staff. They gain their first experiences with construction and technology here.
Using various construction materials in our construction areas, children can create their own fantasy constructions. They can build dens, houses, towers, bridges and much more. This way, they are able to gain experience in working with geometric figures and linking things together. They learn what will hold and what will fall apart. They also teach themselves to pile up stones to create the highest tower possible. These first experiences with mathematics, physics and technology provide children with the basics contributing to their later understanding of natural phenomena.
In the library, we have picture books on all sorts of subjects. Children can choose books depending on their interests, flick through them, show them to each other or let adults read them to them. They learn that books have an important function as a medium. In addition to this, they gain their first experiences with writing and have the chance to practice it sitting at a desk. The individual letters of the alphabet appear in different shapes and sizes across the room. The room also serves as a retreat where you can read books or listen to CDs in peace and quiet.
The children may use the entire corridor area for role play. The role play area, which is deliberately equipped with real-life everyday objects, and the shop, which was planned and co-designed by the children, encourage complex role play in which the children act out situations they have experienced. This is supposed to provide them with a better understanding of their own life situations and enable them to perceive it from a different perspective, thus enabling them to see it more clearly. Every day we observe how children from all groups meet in the corridor to act out their game ideas. By interacting with others, they actively practice their language, social, emotional and cognitive competencies.
Our exercise room provides the children with stimulating materials and opportunities to practise and expand their motor skills. The foam objects invite the children to build various exercise areas and to practice their skills. They build hideouts, balancing beams, bouncy areas, swing on gym rings and climb up the ladder. The children are allowed to use the room independently after the rules have been very clearly agreed upon with them. As a result, the children can enjoy physical activity all year round and significantly work on their physical development. They experience their self-efficacy, practise assessing themselves and assume responsibility for their actions.
Our outdoor area is available to the children all year round and they can use the garden in small groups or alone as agreed upon.
We have made every effort to take as many aspects of children’s development as possible into consideration when designing our outdoor area. We are aware of the fact that the children in the Villa Unibunt need the outside area in order to be able to play their made-up games without worrying about adults’ expectations. This also includes hunting for treasure in the garden, digging holes, using and picking plants for cooking and using water from puddles and containers to experiment. We make sure to set boundaries in case children's health or safety is at risk, or if material could be destroyed. For example, we cover up puddles of mud on cold rainy days, but allow the children to splash around in them in warm weather.
We have observed that, when outside, children follow their interests without a care in the world and share important learning experiences because they know that the experiences they gain at the Villa Unibunt are regarded as important and relevant.
All the children really enjoying playing in the sandbox. They bake and sell sand cakes, dig and build tunnels and castles, and gain new experiences in perception, physics, communication and many more aspects.
Role play also takes up a lot of space in the outside area, where tables and stools, huts and quiet corners serve as a basis for intensive game experiences.
They gain experience in movement throughout the whole area – they jump, run, bounce, climb, balance, swing and roll around until their hearts' content. The swings, the climbing frame, the hammock and the slide enhance all of these new experiences with movement.
The children’s experience with nature is an automatic process which takes place when they play outside on a daily basis, at any time of the year, and in (almost) any weather. The garden changes over the course of the seasons: leaves grow on trees, fruits ripen and are picked, leaves fall off the trees again and in winter the garden is bare. For this purpose, we plant and maintain our four raised flower beds together with the children. They take responsibility and experience a conscious approach to their environment.
They learn about growing, ripening, reaping, blossoming and perishing, and they experience the natural course of the year’s seasons with all of their senses.
Complementary educational spaces:
The teaching staff provide the children with additional projects and workshops which are limited to certain times and rooms. These include the music workshop, visits to the neighbouring fort, singing in circles with children from all the groups, baking, experimenting, gymnastics in cooperation with the inhabitants of Diaconal Centre Landau Bethesda (people with disabilities and senior citizens) and more. These offers always only apply to some children, and depend on the situation and the child’s age. Participation is voluntary.
Educational and learning partnership
We work together with parents when it comes to the children’s day care and education. They are the first and most important attachment figures to their child. With the knowledge they have of their children, they take on the essential role as the experts in our education and learning partnership. Thus, the experiences of parents and the pedagogical expertise of the teacher are linked to each other. We engage in educational partnerships by initiating stimulating conversations and enabling an exchange between parents and teaching staff to take place. It is equally important to us that parents can express their topics of discussion and suggestions openly. We would like to have the support of parents, encourage them to provide us with suggestions and constructive criticism, so that together we can come up with ideas to initiate change. We view our day care centre as a meeting point where parents are welcome to stay. Parents are always invited to participate in everyday life and pedagogical activities of the day care centre.
In addition, it is important to us that parents contribute their own competencies, be it by means of e.g. musical/craft talents or vocational skills. As a result, they are able to provide us as teaching staff and their children with additional valuable resources. The transparency of our work is a further, important quality attribute, which becomes evident in parent-teacher interviews, parent-teacher conferences and other joint activities.
The parents' committee, as a representative body of the parents, assists us in our pedagogical work in a variety of ways (e.g. organising events).