Kindergarten in Germany is a lot different than in the United States. They learn by play. Their particular kindergarten is an open-concept kindergarten. Students rotate rooms throughout the day at their choosing (Limited time in each room, of course, and they have morning circle and mid-day circle in their respective homerooms). There is a room for playing with dolls, a room for doing puzzles and games, a room for drawing (I've seen the teacher of that room set up still lifes), a room for making things such as forts, and so on. The children who are going on to grade one next year have a half hour ABC class Monday-Thursday. It's a structured class and prepares them for next year's classroom setting. As a school-starter, Olivia also had swimming class twice a month and music class twice a month.
The one thing that is not taught, aside from learning how to write your name, is reading. I was very worried about this as many of Olivia's peers in the States will be entering first grade knowing how to read, some quite well. However, Germans are not behind the learning curve in the long-run. In fact, their top level of high school, Gymnasium, far exceeds most US public high schools academically (Children enter gymnasium between the ages of 10 and 13). Olivia will start Class One in September at a primary school in our town (She choose to go to German school over American - we let her make the decision).
That being said, Matt and I are diligently working on getting Olivia to read in English, as knowing how to read in German, and not English, will leave her behind when she reenters the US school system in a year or two. Earlier this year, we started out with the Bob Books and Explode the Code Workbooks. Recently, she started doing Explode the Code Online. Today, at the recommendation of some homeschooling parents, I ordered, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." She does now read short sentences such as, "Matt reads a book. The dog ran up a hill." However, I believe it was by the middle of first grade that I was reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series on my own (I did not attend Kindergarten as, at the time, my parents would have had to pay for it. A year later, it became free and my sisters each went) and I want her to have the love of reading at a young age as Matt and I did. We have been reading chapter books, such as the Ramona Series by Beverly Clearly, every night. Olivia is obsessed with having us read to her every night. She will cry herself to sleep if we do not. We've recently begun having her read to us before we read to her (Lila sits in too, of course). Slowly, she is making progress and, again, I'm proud of her. She's quite diligent and even asks to read to us. So, she too is very eager to learn, which helps a lot.
Below are some pictures of her graduation. There was a slide show that brought tears to my eyes and then all the graduating students sang about seven songs. At the end of the evening, juice was served to the children and champagne to the adults (I had juice, of course).
|Revealing their ABC class workbook and supplies|
|Their Schultüte's (school cones) to be used on first day of primary school|
|Champagne is served!|
In mid-September, she starts Class One and with the help of Google Translate, our German friends, and a Mommy Learning German class that Lila's kindergarten offers me (free) once a week, I'll be able to help Olivia through the school year. With a new baby on the way and a daughter in a foreign grade school, I'll have my work cut out for me. Fortunately (so far) there are no deployments scheduled for Matt. So, he'll be here to help out too!