When children set out from home and enter our facilities, it is often the first time that they experience an extended separation. And even if the child has already been part of a toddlers’ group or in the care of a child minder, the changes they undergo in a new setting are considerable:
- The rooms are unfamiliar, and their size and furnishings alone are exciting.
- The child must establish a relationship with an unfamiliar caregiver.
- The child is also unaccustomed to being together with many new children of different ages.
- The child encounters a new daily rhythm.
That is why we work together with parents to shape the acclimation phase as carefully as possible.
In a preparatory discussion with the parents about the acclimation phase, we establish agreements in order to promote transparency and to create a foundation based on trust. A three-day initial phase without separation from the parents helps to gauge the acclimation process and facilitates the planning of reasonable additional steps. At the start of the acclimation phase, we assign a principal caregiver to accompany the child continuously.
Our acclimation concept follows the Berlin Adjustment Model.
Berlin Adjustment Model
The parents are closely involved in the acclimation phase of their child. The acclimation phase takes place over the course of two weeks. In order to facilitate a gentle, stress-free acclimation, no separation occurs in the three-day initial phase. The mother or father is available as a “safe haven” but remains as passive as possible. On the fourth day, the first separation attempt occurs. Taking the reaction of the child into account, the duration of separation is extended incrementally each day. During this stabilization phase the child remains alone with the caregiver for longer and longer periods of time. In the final phase the parent no longer stays at the facility. The acclimation is complete once the child accepts the caregiver as a secure attachment figure and lets the caregiver console her.
Next we examine the current events of the day, whereby we always focus on the needs of the child. Moreover, our daily exchange with parents plays a very important role for us, so that a spirit of partnership can evolve.
Acclimation for children less than 12 months old
Children under 12 months of age have a different rhythm than the older children. They sleep and eat at other times and need closer attention. We know it is very important, during the acclimation period and the first few months, to adopt the rhythm to which the child is accustomed, and we adapt ourselves to that rhythm. We arrange our daily schedule according to his needs until he has adjusted himself to the routine of the group.
Together with the child’s caregiver and peer group, as well as the local environment, a structured daily routine with rituals provides orientation for the children and their families.
For children, a daily repeating routine – but in combination with latitude for individual adjustments – is of crucial importance. A structured routine gives them a feeling of security and control. The daily transitions (e.g. the relocation from the group room to the garden) are key moments in which the children acquire skills for handling changes and mastering new situations. Repetitive routines facilitate this. Because the processes are familiar and predictable, the children can participate actively and autonomously in the course of events.
- Permanent features of the daily routine include, for example:
- Arrival in a group
- Morning circle / breakfast
- Activities / free education phase (free play)
- Sleep and rest period
In order to make the daily arrival in the morning easier for the child and the parents, the pedagogical staff create a cozy and inviting atmosphere by preparing the room and warmly welcoming each family. The children and the pedagogical staff start the day together with a morning circle. Each child is welcomed individually in the morning circle and is free to pick out songs or singing games on their own in both languages. The additional use of instruments provides the opportunity for initial rhythmic experience.
In the cozy breakfast immediately thereafter, the children enjoy being together in their group and gather force for the action-rich morning ahead of them.
The importance of play
Playing is learning – play is education.
We believe that it is important for all children to have enough time for free play. They can choose freely from a selection of toys and play materials available to them. While playing, the children engage with their environment in an active and relaxed way, thereby gaining their own personal experience. This gives them an elementary basis for their future education (concentration ability, logical thinking, creativity, autonomy, frustration tolerance, etc.). The childish play creates ideal conditions for successful learning processes in all areas of early education.
The children acquire knowledge about themselves (self-discovery, personality development, getting to know their own capabilities and limits). They expand their social and language skills and gain knowledge about materials and how they work.
During role play, they process their experiences, thereby strengthening their ability to master everyday challenges. Play is extremely important to us and holds a high value in our everyday routine. We have a genuine interest in the concept of education through play, and this is how we guide the children’s learning processes.
In the everyday routine, we offer the children activities in the different education areas, whereby the children have the opportunity to choose. The organization of the activities always starts with the interests of the children. Some examples of everyday activities include: Mucking around with sand and water, painting, physical activity course, nature days and excursions, sensory experiences, table games, role playing, free play, etc.
Eating is more than merely filling one’s stomach: shared meals during the daily pedagogical routine are key educational situations of great importance. Le Jardin takes care to provide an extremely healthy, varied, well-balanced diet. In addition, we take into account the food allergies and nutritional intolerances of any children affected by them.
We know it is very important that the child builds a positive relationship with eating and does not feel forced to eat. Pleasure and attentiveness are values that we want to transmit in the context of eating. That does not mean that the children are deprived of the opportunity to experience and investigate the meal with all of their senses, however. We feel that it is important for the children to develop a sense for what they need. They learn to gauge their sense of hunger, thirst or being full. At mealtime we pay special attention to our role model effect and always eat together with the children. Shared meals represent both ritual and routine for the children, and provide a sense of security in the daily course of events. In addition, shared meals promote social cohesion and stimulate exchange within the group.
Sleep and rest periods
In their everyday routine, children need periods of calm and relaxation.
Children’s need for sleep differs widely according to age and personality. Fixed sleep and rest periods offer children a chance to slow and help to structure their day. We believe that it is important to accommodate and respect individual sleep requirements. Each child in our facilities has their own place to sleep – a place where they can feel safe and secure.
Regarding any change in a child’s sleeping situation, our staff stays in close contact with their parents. This enables us to ensure active participation in managing the transitions of the child’s evolving sleep rhythm.
Out of respect for their sleep, we are extremely careful not to wake any of the children in the nursery.
We provide quiet times so the children can balance out their active morning. We also provide rest and quiet areas for the older children to use according to their own needs.
Care is a central element of our day-to-day life and our pedagogical action. The children take an active part in their own care. This helps the children learn how to recognize their own needs, what is important for their body, and what is good for them.
Each of our locations features child-friendly, age-oriented sanitary facilities which enable step-by-step progress toward autonomous access and autonomous use.
These care moments represent an important part of our daily life and enable a close and communicative exchange with the individual child. We make sure that these times are treated individually and based on sensitive and respectful attention to the child. The children’s intimacy and bodily functions are taken into account and respected within the context of care.
Continuous exchange with their parents enables us to identify the needs of each individual child more clearly and to accommodate those needs individually.