Free play at our crèches and kindergartens In addition to structured learning processes, relaxed free play also performs an important role in children’s development. The Wichtel Akademie’s educational concept merges these two aspects, because playing and learning are not mutually exclusive activities. Playing is the most basic form of learning. For this reason, we attach great importance to free play for our Wichtel children alongside our more formal educational provision. As a result, we ensure that the daily routine at our day-care centres is not overly regimented, since each child’s personal development is greatly enhanced if they are allowed to intuitively and independently explore their environment through free play, either alone or with other children. The rooms in the crèches and kindergartens of the Wichtel Akademie are designed to provide the children with a carefully prepared environment that stimulates the various forms of free play. Our educators are committed to providing the children with targeted play resources based on their individual interests and level of development. Our free play activities incorporate all educational areas Free play also allows the children to explore their environment — they decide for themselves what, where, how long and with whom they want to play. As a result, the children often create demanding role-playing games and complex construction activities using a wide range of materials. They are also able to experiment, solve problems independently and practise social behaviour. During these activities, the children’s concentration levels, gross and fine motor skills, endurance, consideration of others and patience are all developed. When our educators join in as play partners, the children’s learning experiences are further intensified, for example by means of targeted questions or by encouraging each child to overcome specific hurdles. Last but not least, by observing and documenting the free play activities, our educators can obtain important information about the specific interests and development levels of the individual children. Such information is very important for their pedagogical work. By providing a structured daily routine, project work and targeted educational activities on the one hand, and ensuring sufficient free play on the other, we are able to meet all of the children’s developmental needs.