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All you need to know as a parent about the kindergarten transition process (Eingewöhnung)

When a child goes to the kindergarten in Germany, there is a process that helps the child to adapt to the new environment. There are two very well worked-out methods that are used for that:

This transition is of great help for the child, but also for the parents and the teachers because all of them need to adapt to the new situation.

There is plenty of information available about the theoretical background behind the transition, so in this article, we will focus on tips and useful information that will help you as a parent to go successfully through it and ensure that your child benefits maximum from it.

There are three main participants in the transition – parent, child and teacher.  In the role of the parent can be the mother, the father and even some of the grant parents.

Since most often the parent that participates in the process is the mother, in the rest of the article we will often use mother/mommy in the context of a parent.

What is important to know?

Transition is never easy but a good collaboration between the teacher and the parent can help a lot for the smooth adaption of the child to the new environment in the kindergarten.

During this transition, the teacher goes between the mother and the child in order to take over Mom’s role during the period when the child is in the kindergarten. The teacher must make the child feel comfortable and safe and help at his/her development by going hand in hand together to discover the world.

Remember that being a teacher is not an easy job. Being parent can be complicated as well. Therefore, there should be a mutual respect, acceptance and support from both sides.

  • In the cases when the mother is not ready for the transition, the teacher should speak with her and help her to understand the situation and guide her through the routine.
  • The mother can also tell useful information and give tips to the teacher regarding the ways she is handling the child in specific situations. For example – “I always do so and so with the child … and it is working well for me.” This helps the teacher and makes the work easier.

Relationship between teachers and parents

Below are the most important aspects of the relationship between parent and teacher

  • They should work together
  • Respect from both sides is required
  • Not necessary to be best friends, but collaboration is important
  • Every parent has a different development style and the teacher should accept it
  • The parent should follow the instructions provided by the teacher
  • It is strong emotional work from both sides

It is recommended that after every day, you sit together with the teacher and discuss how you were feeling and what is teacher’s opinion. Discuss also what will be the steps on the next day.

If by some reason after 2 weeks things are not working well between the teacher and the child, then you can try the process with another teacher. This happens very rarely – sometimes just the match between the child and a teacher is not working well.

Separation

Separation is the time when the mother goes out and leaves the child alone with the teacher.

During the separation, the mother should be very calm, relaxed and should follow the instructions of the teacher. The mom should give a feeling to the child that it is safe and it is at the best place in the world.

When the teacher tells you to go out, keep calm, tell nicely to the child “Mommy is going for a coffee, but will be back soon.” and then go out immediately. If the child is crying, that’s fine and it happens often at the beginning.

When the child is crying during the separation, that’s not a problem. This means that there is really good bonding between the mother and the child. After a few minutes of crying, the teacher will help the child to calm down.

What is important here, is that you always tell goodbye to the child before you go out, so it knows that you are going out for a while, but you will be back. This keeps the trust between mother and child and also helps the child to be calmer. If you just sneak out while the child is playing, it will be afraid once it discovers you are gone and it is alone.

Be aware that when Mommy is unsure and not calm, she is giving this feeling to the child as well. The child is simply copying Mommy’s behavior. So be calm and relaxed and everything will be fine.

Of course, the teacher needs to help to the Mommy and tell what she can do and what she should avoid.

Normally when you are back in the room after the separation, you will take the child and go home together. This will repeat in the following days with gradually increasing the time duration when you are out of the room. These are the first steps for establishing the daily routine of going to the kindergarten and back home after that.

Eating

After a while, you will reach the point when the child stays long enough to get a meal with the others.

It could happen that at the beginning the child does not like to eat in the kindergarten. The reason may be that the taste of the food is different than at home or because everything is new and is looking different.

In any case, there is no need to worry about that. After a while, the child is beginning to eat – first only the simple food like potato and rise and then slowly it will be trying the other food as well.

A very good thing about the German kindergarten is that the child has the freedom to decide what to eat and how much to eat from it. The teachers give children a chance to “participate in their own life” and take their own decisions.

Sleeping

You will also reach the point when the child will sleep in the kindergarten.

At home children often have specific sleeping routines and rituals that help them fall asleep. Some need complete darkness, other sleep only with a favorite toy, other likes to hear its favorite fairy-tales, etc. Does your child have a special ritual that makes you think it will never be able to sleep in the kindergarten? If this is the case, then relax and don’t worry!

At the beginning the children just play in the sleeping room. They see how it looks like when it is dark and get used to it.

At the time when the child will start sleeping in the kindergarten, it already knows the teacher and is feeling conformable with her/him. The teacher is always next to the child to help falling asleep. The child also sees that all others are sleeping, which helps as well.

As a parent you can give a few tips to the teacher regarding the sleeping habits of your child, but have in mind, that the environment in the kindergarten is totally different that the one at home. And since the child will be involved in many new activities, it will be very tired and fall asleep easier than you expect. There is not a problem and you should believe that it works.

If the child is crying at the beginning that’s also fine, because every day there will be less and less crying. After several days your child will be sleeping very well.

What else is good to know?

Sometimes it looks like the child does not want to go to the kindergarten, but usually the truth is a bit different – the child simply wants to stay with Mommy at home.

If you have any doubts or worries, discuss them openly with the teacher. You will get valuable feedback and you will feel much better after that.

Have in mind that the transition is a challenging time not only for the mother and the child, but requires also a lot of efforts and skills from the teachers. Therefore, we recommend you to give a small gift to the whole team (and not only for one teacher), once the transition is complete as a symbol of appreciation. This is a nice gesture from your side and sets the tone for a good future relationship.

The teacher is Mom’s deputy during kindergarten time, so maintaining nice and friendly relationship is important for the well-being of the child.

Johanna Maria Ivanova
Johanna Maria Ivanovahttps://www.johanna-maria.com/
Happy mommy that wants the best for her children. As a certified early childhood educator in Germany, Montessori pedagogue, primary and secondary school teacher, I am working with children in all ages for more than 20 years.
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