Friday, August 06, 2010

We love Love LOVE the new Kinderhaus!

After probably one of the worst experiences of my life (sending my poor defenseless kid off to an awful throwback of a preschool where they were convinced that he was disabled and kept trying to convince me of the same, where they went so far as to try to organize a doctor's appointment --as if we don't take him to the doctor ourselves and didn't inform them of every last "?*"*)§/ appointment-- without our permission to "put pressure on the doctor" to put him in a special needs preschool), we have started him in a new preschool that just opened and he is a superstar there. The teachers there actually seem to like their job and like kids, which is completely different from the old place. At the new Kinderhaus the teachers have tons of ideas and already this week started building puppet theaters and houses out of giant cardboard boxes with the kids. They actually let the kids use paint! Real, wet, smeary finger paint! W's group at the old preschool never once used paint with a brush, let alone FINGER paint. Good God, someone could have gotten dirty! And then the teachers maybe would have had to work to help clean up! The most artistic thing I saw there were some colored pencil drawings, and one time one other group used Play Doh. The Kinderhaus has a huge supply of finger paint and real, messy, brown clay. I want to go back to being 3 years old so I can go there and play!

Anyway, our new Kinderhaus is a fantastic place. I say "our" because it's a parents' initiative, meaning that parental work there is required. This could be anything from helping wash hand towels to fixing curtains to bookkeeping, planning parties, organizing photo archives...In our case, I will be providing English lessons for the kids. I like this, because in a way it is a kind of self selection: who is willing to do 4 hours of work per month for their kid to go there? And I can also have a look on the inside and see just what goes on inside this place. At the old preschool I really had the feeling that parents were unwanted. Please just drop your kid off, pick them up as late as possible before closing time please so you don't disturb our day, and we will fix everything you have done wrong with this child in the meantime.

I haven't even touched on the pedagogical concept. They are picking and choosing different aspects (what they consider the best) from various pedagogical approaches, including Montessori, Waldorf and others. The Kinderhaus is also free of mass-produced plastic toys--they only have things like wooden building blocks, dress up clothes, paints, boxes, beads, glue, marbles, tubes, blankets, buttons, musical instruments, books, paper, pencils, scissors, cloths, get the picture. The first day W asked for a car, but soon after, forgot all about cars and was really free to start exploring. This Kinderhaus is also conceived as a place that is colorful, varied, open, international, welcoming and where everyone is equal.

As if that all isn't fantastic enough, the building itself is a low-energy building with solar cells on the roof and they collect rainwater for watering the garden. In the back they will have gardens where the kids can grow vegetables and herbs, and the food on offer is organic and fresh. When I first walked into the building, I wanted to move in. It has gorgeous wood floors, cool windows and colorful rooms.

How do I know that W likes it? On Wednesday when we rounded the corner and the Kinderhaus came into view, he took off running and called out "Woohoo! The Kinderhaus!!!". On the second day he already told me that he wanted to stay there alone. Today he was practically begging me to be able to stay all alone next week. On the first day he took off with his teacher as if I wasn't even there to get water to water the plants and take some banana peels and stuff downstairs to the compost. Today he was playing and singing one of the songs he composed himself. And he talks to people there. He never spoke in the old preschool. I would like to thank Frau G and the others at the old preschool for showing me how absolutely horrible and damaging a preschool can be so I can really appreciate what a wonderful one we have found now! Sorry, Frau G, that I almost always freeze up and start swearing like a sailor as if I had Tourette's syndrome when I see you on the street or at the store, it's sort of like an allergic reaction. Maybe if someone treated the kid you love more than anything else in the world like trash and spoke to you as if you are an idiot just because you are a foreigner (who speaks the local language at least okay and can understand everything), you just might see where I'm coming from.

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