Kindergarten? School? Where is the boundary?
Back home the child is burdened with a lot of responsibilities immediately after he/she joins kindergarten. Every activity they are doing is more of close to the role of school. There is no clear boundary between school and kindergarten. We push our children so much in the wrong direction that some even develop lack of interest for education at early age. Inspired by this, I paid a visit to a kindergarten in Heidelberg, Germany. Though, Ethiopia and Germany have difference in many aspects, I still believe that we have so many things to learn from them.
The focus areas of the kindergarten could be categorized under the following main themes:
- Creativity: they will give the children with some waste material such as paper and carton and the children are guided to develop something like a car, bicycle…
- Sport: they have sport room and outdoor activities
- Music: there is a teacher who plays guitar for the children
- Forest: the forest teacher will take the children to the forest so that they will study about nature.
They give attention to social competencies such as whether the kid is focusing to the different indoor and outdoor activities designed by the school. They also have a speech therapist which is important for children who do not start speech on time and for children with immigrant background.
The two junction period i.e. when the children come to kindergarten for the first time and then when the children leave the kindergarten for school also receive special attention. When the children come to kindergarten for the first time, parents are responsible to stay in the kindergarten until children feel comfortable with the teachers and whatsoever happening within the kindergarten. It depends on the nature of the child and thus it may take one month. The process is gradual in which at the beginning the child spend limited time and will increase gradually while the children are adjusted with the kindergarten. When it comes to the final phase of the kindergarten, they prepare a kind of simulation classroom similar to school. They also take them to the school for a visit. A school teacher will also come for orientation. When it comes to early numeracy and early literacy, it is more of preparing them for school than teaching them how to write number and letters. But, if they see that the child has interest to write, they will let them to do it. The school also has library room and the teachers guide the children to use the books. One thing that I have observed is that there is a clear boundary between kindergarten and school. Generally, every activity of the kindergarten designed with a clear aim of producing an independent child.
Ephrem Tekle Yacob (Dr. phil.)
Institute of Educational Science,