The educational areas in the kindergarten according to the Thuringian educational plan
The educational areas from the German Thuringian Educational Plan are fundamental signposts and orientations for our pedagogical work. We design the educational processes in our daily work according to needs. We would like to give you a brief overview of the different educational areas and also describe examples from our work to illustrate the educational areas.
Language and written language education
For the age-appropriate development of language competence, our educational specialists support the language development of each individual child in a process-related manner. Children acquire language and writing. Through speaking and listening, reading, and drawing, they succeed in living together with others, exchanging thoughts, and acting together. Linguistic and written language education is the basis for social participation and lifelong learning (excerpt from the Thuringian educational recommendations).
Language and literacy education in the GISAD kindergarten takes place in the mixed-age (3-6 years) groups and is integrated into everyday life. Linguistic education takes place in the whole group, in the small group, mixed-age and age-homogeneous, incidentally and specifically. Everyday life is accompanied by language from the beginning to the end of the day. For example greetings, songs, activities accompanied by language, books read aloud, recurring rituals accompanied by language, recurring language instructions, table sayings, characters, picture cards, letters in preschool.
Physical and mental health education
We place a high value on health promotion in our kindergarten. Both physical health education (e.g. healthy eating and body/movement in gross and fine motor skills) and mental health education (strengthening of personal resources, mental, emotional, and social) are equally important. At our kindergarten, health education is lived in everyday life, e.g. in all educational and care-related activities of the pedagogical staff, who pay attention to sufficient hygiene, cleanliness, and personal hygiene of the children. Our children should not only develop an awareness of healthy nutrition but also orient their behavior accordingly. Thus, there are certain rules that are to be observed, e.g. washing/disinfecting one’s hands before eating and after each visit to the toilet and sitting down at the table at mealtimes, behaving appropriately. Here, the role model effect of the educational staff is particularly important. Toys and materials are disinfected daily. COVID testing takes place regularly at the school and we take advantage of all opportunities to exercise daily.
Children have an unbiased view of their environment and its nature. They discover the world anew every day. In our outdoor area, children can perceive and explore their environment. We regularly offer the children opportunities to experiment. Here they can playfully explore and learn about the elements of nature as well as physical laws.
We teach our kindergarten children the basics of scientific experimentation as well as the following key scientific terms:
Natural sciences (chemistry, physics, astronomy).
Earth sciences (weather, seasons, our planet, the solar system)
Life sciences (ourselves, plants, animals)
Weather and seasons
Kindergarten children begin their exploration of earth science by observing natural phenomena they experience every day. They discuss the changing seasons and read stories about the weather and the different times of the day. They also look at extreme weather events and earth features such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
Mathematical education is an intensive and exciting experience. We give the children the opportunity to discover relationships, detect regularities, and use them for their own benefit. We want to get the children excited about the world of numbers. This involves an interest in, for example, the world of numbers and the exciting handling of quantities. The joy of doing is always in the foreground of all mathematical activities. It motivates the children to make patterns, to experience shapes and spaces, and to develop an understanding of numbers, e.g. through counting rhymes, picture books, and dice games. But also getting to know measures of time, e.g. times of day, month, year, and picking up numbers from the children’s everyday life and environment (age, signs) are part of mathematical education.
In our kindergarten, the children experience the following in everyday life:
Our children experience a wide range of musical activities in their daily lives. Through different stimuli, we offer them to try out their own voice, to explore sounds and sound worlds. Through activities such as musical fantasy journeys, targeted listening to music, trying out musical instruments, singing together, recognizing rhythms/sounds, and dancing/moving, the children experience music with their senses, perceive themselves, and experience positive self-esteem. Singing songs with melody and text repetition, intonation, basic beat, and rhythm consolidate language structures. There are opportunities to sing and listen to songs throughout everyday life, e.g. in the morning circle, at celebrations, to bridge waiting times or as a lullaby to fall asleep to. Music conveys a sense of security and expresses certain moods. It is also a ritual to bring about certain situations better and to support content-related topics. They experience their own personality and that of others and learn tolerance. Especially for children with initially little knowledge of German, the music builds bridges.
Artistic – aesthetic education
Aesthetic, artistic, and cultural education is an essential part of our pedagogy and is implemented in this way:
Looking at picture books, community work, creative design with different materials, art projects, painting on different themes, children’s theatre (shadow theatre, puppet stage, join-in theatre), playing theatre themselves, looking at art, painting to music, designing with fabrics, working with malleable materials such as plasticine/clay, creating patterns, making jewelry, etc., getting to know colors and experimenting.
Children want to be artistically creative of their own accord. The children have the opportunity to express their ideas, feelings, and value judgments imaginatively in artistic activities. They experience that they can create something themselves and produce beautiful, individual things, which helps to strengthen their self-confidence. When looking at the various art objects, it is not only the visible impressions that count, but also the children’s sensations, feelings, fantasies, experiences, and thoughts. In self-designed pictures and objects, their individuality is revealed. This automatically creates links to the other educational areas. Prerequisites are, for example, the provision of various materials in free play: Watercolors, paper, pencils, modeling clay, decorating, etc. Free play in the garden also invites creativity in many ways (sand toys, small stones, twigs, leaves, shells, painting with chalks…).
At kindergarten age, the children expand their sphere of action. The circle of their reference persons now also includes pedagogical staff and first friends in the kindergarten. With the acquisition of their linguistic skills, the children come to terms with their social environment. In the process, many questions arise in the children and they search for answers. We react to this openly and sensitively and encourage the children to think for themselves and find their own answers. In this way, they develop the ability to deal critically with themselves and others, to think logically, and to argue. Every day we encounter questions for philosophizing: “Why can’t I hit when I’m being teased?”, “What happens when I step on a bug?” or “What does friendship mean?” These and many more questions are encountered by children and us every day. It is good for children to think, to talk about their thoughts and to get to know other points of view. In this way, they question and rethink their position. At the same time, they learn the skill of empathy.
Media education means imparting competencies for critical and reflective use of media. We create spaces to enable children to experience using media, e.g. books, CDs, and the internet. Media education and increasing digitalization should begin at the moment when children first come into contact with media. We use age-specific media and pay strict attention to the duration of the children’s media consumption. We accompany the children on their way, give them a pedagogical framework, and support them in discovering and trying out media and the beginning of digitalization here at school.
Children orientate themselves to their fellow human beings and are part of a group in the kindergarten and yet an independent person. In their interaction in the group, the children experience how everyone is valued and appreciated and how conflicts can be solved. Through personal responsibility, e.g. table duty, they acquire social skills: I do something for everyone. They form their own opinions and learn to accept the opinions of others. In discussions and morning circles, topics such as group rules, disputes, seasonal events, and current events are discussed. This often leads to further projects or activities. Social interaction is learned and experienced.
We take all children seriously, take their fears, feelings, and interests into consideration, and show them respect and appreciation. When children experience this themselves, they are also able to treat others with respect and esteem. Our work is based on the individual needs of the children. Co-design, co-determination, and participation are important instruments for promoting the children’s self-education process. Participation takes place in daily interaction with each other and is an essential part of a trusting and appreciative relationship. Our children are involved in decision-making and design processes. In this way, they learn that they can freely express their wishes, feelings, and interests and that their opinion is important. In this way, the children learn democratic, personal, and social skills that they can transfer to other areas of life.