Settling-in process in our crèches and kindergartens

We attach great importance to carefully familiarising the children entrusted to us with their new surroundings. On this subject, we refer to the findings of attachment theory. One of the Wichtel Akademie’s educators will also serve as a key worker and attachment figure for your child, giving them security and creating the basis for a successful experience with us.  Almost all Wichtel day-care centres contain both a crèche and a kindergarten in the same building. At the Wichtel Akademie, we make the transition from crèche to kindergarten easier and more natural for our children by ensuring that our crèche children make regular visits to the kindergarten, and that the children and educators already know each other from previous trips and parties.

At the Wichtel Akademie, the process of familiarising new children to the crèche and kindergarten is based on a set of pedagogical guidelines, which we have developed on the basis of the latest scientific findings.

This settling-in process is divided into five phases:

First meeting with the parents
Breaking the ice and creating security

Criteria for separation are met

Building confidence and stabilising
First trial separation
Final meeting

1. The first meeting

At the first meeting we discuss the child’s unique characteristics and habits, while giving the parents an initial insight into the workings of the day-care centre. The designated key worker/attachment figure, who will accompany the child through the settling-in period, leads the meeting in order to learn about the child’s important development steps and rituals, thus initiating the beginning of a trust-based, nurturing and educational partnership.

2. Breaking the ice and creating security

For very young children, it is easier to encounter strangers and process new situations if a trusted person is also present. During the first few weeks, the children therefore spend one to two hours per day in the day-care centre together with mum or dad. The parents play a largely passive role and serve as a safe retreat for their child. The child’s key worker also gives them plenty of time and space at this stage — she initially stays largely in the background and observes the child, who is encouraged to explore their new environment at their own pace. The presence of the parents is indispensable for the child’s well-being during this familiarisation phase; the separation process therefore takes place at the earliest in the second week.

3. Building confidence and stabilising

The settling-in period is designed to make spending time in the day-care centre a familiar situation for the children and to allow their key workers to build up a close relationship with them — especially in key everyday situations such as eating and changing. At the Wichtel Akademie, we ensure that a parent is always present during the first six days of confidence building. For this reason, the child’s midday nap at the day-care centre does not start until after this period.

4. First trial separation

When the child and parents are ready for the first trial separation, the parent says goodbye to their child after a few minutes and leaves the common room, but remains in the building. The key worker then holds the child in her arms. During the days that follow — and in the crèche at the earliest on day five — the key worker increasingly takes care of the child’s needs (changing, feeding, etc.) as part of a gradual handover process that is individually adapted to the individual needs of each child. After a short farewell, the parents leave the room, but remain close by. The separation is successful once the child can be comforted by the key worker and begins to communicate with her.

5. Final meeting

The settling-in process is completed once the child has accepted their key worker as a safe haven and become accustomed to their new daily routine. The child may still get upset when mum or dad says goodbye, however by this stage the key worker is able to quickly settle them. Once this final phase and reflection process is complete, the Wichtel Akademie arranges a final meeting with the child’s key worker, during which the parents and key worker review the child’s progress during the settling-in process and discuss their goals for the child moving forward.

Further transitions to kindergarten and school

The transitions from crèche to kindergarten and kindergarten to school represent a major step for children and their parents. The better the preparation, the easier this change will be.

Transition to kindergarten

Fifteen out of the sixteen Wichtel day-care centres contain both a crèche and a kindergarten in the same building. At the Wichtel Akademie, we make the transition from crèche to kindergarten easier and more natural for our children by ensuring that our crèche children make regular visits to the kindergarten, and that the children and educators already know each other from previous trips and parties. We offer children from other crèches the opportunity to visit us with their parents before the beginning of the kindergarten year and invite them to join us for parties and celebrations, thus giving both children and parents the opportunity get to know the new environment.

Transition to school — our “school-hopper” program

When a child starts school it represents a major change for the whole family. This transition is therefore given particular attention in the children’s everyday learning at the Wichtel Akademie. With this in mind, we provide a wide range of opportunities for preschool children, who are known as “school hoppers” at the Wichtel Akademie. These include project work, weekly targeted school preparation tasks and even themed visits (for example to a bakery, radio station or laboratory). As part of our school-hopper program, we use a number of age-appropriate and playful activities to help our children develop key skills such as perception, vocabulary, spatial presentation, numerical comprehension, coarse and fine motor skills as well as memory and concentration. We also organise visits to neighbouring primary schools, practice the route to school and provide road safety education in conjunction with the police. In this way, we ensure that the preschool children at the Wichtel Akademie are well prepared and can make a happy and confident start to their first year at school.

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