How Bremen wants to make children with language problems suitable for school

In the nursery, children learn language and social behavior at the same time, even with the help of picture books.

Image: Imago | shooting shop

Children who have not been to kindergarten often have difficulties in school. Especially if you hardly speak German. A transition year to daycare should help. The problem: there is no staff.

The state of Bremen is introducing a bridging year for kindergarten for the next school year. It is specially designed for those 200 children a year in Bremen and Bremerhaven who have not yet gone to a nursery or do not speak the language well enough to get by in school.

Currently, these boys and girls are being prepared for school enrollment within a few months with the help of language support courses, a preparation widely considered insufficient. In the future, affected boys and girls, who often live in families where little German is spoken, will be forced to attend daycare for at least twenty hours a week for a full year before starting school. There they should not only learn the language, but also social behavior. How could the bridge year of kindergarten be concretely: this is what the members of parliament in Bremen will discuss today.

Percentage of children with language support needs in Bremen in 2019, by district

Percentage of children with language support needs in Bremerhaven in 2019 by district

There is no nursery school

Solveig Eschen, spokesman for the children’s policy of the parliamentary group of the Greens, clarifies ahead of the parliamentary debate: “It is not the children or the parents who are responsible, but the state of Bremen. We are obliged to offer the parents crèches to offer to the their children “.

But that’s exactly what’s wrong. Eschen says there are not enough crèches for everyone in Bremen. This is the main reason why 200-300 children in the state of Bremen are about to start school every year, even if they never went to daycare. In total, more than 1,000 nurseries are missing in Bremen year after year. Nurseries lack both staff and space to accommodate all children.

Complicated inscriptions

Furthermore, the registration process is very difficult, especially for parents who have problems with the German language. But if you don’t find a daycare for your child on the first try, you need to make an effort to have a chance, maybe even sue for a daycare. “Many people are overwhelmed by this, especially in socially deprived areas of the city,” says Eschen.

He hopes Kita’s bridge year will help defuse the situation. Since a child who is eligible for the bridging year must be placed in a daycare center and supported, he or she enjoys a certain priority. The politician then describes the kindergarten bridge year as “a milestone so that children with language support no longer fall into the cracks and have the opportunity to start school well”.

“The main thing is that we find skilled workers”

CDU MP Sandra Ahrens also wishes such a good start to school for the children. However, she is not convinced by Kita’s idea of ​​the bridge year. Ahrens doubts that a transition year to daycare can actually be legally binding. That’s why she would have preferred a preschool year instead of a bridge year. But the politician also admits: “In the end, it doesn’t matter what you call it. The main thing is that we quickly find trained professionals who are there for the children.”

But here’s the problem. This is also what Barbara Schüll, educator and teacher of the preliminary course, as well as spokesperson for the state council for the Education and Science Union (GEW) in Bremen, says. “Kita’s idea of ​​the bridge year sounds great. But how should it be implemented?” Schüll would like to know. Even if retired students and teachers, social workers and educators could help out on short notice, the problems would by no means be solved.

For many years, Bremen and the rest of the country neglected to make educational professions more attractive and generally invested more in daycare. The price for this has been paid in particular by children in the poorest areas of the city, where the percentage of people with a migrant background is high and where many children are in need of language support. “But you need time, staff and space for supplementary language education. In districts like Gröpelingen in particular, everything is missing,” says Schüll.

Now the children from Ukraine are coming “

Language support in the day center.  Children lie down on a blanket and point to pictures in a picture book.  The teacher sits next to her
“Children learn best from children,” says Barbara Schüll, an educator and preparatory course teacher and spokesperson for the state executive for the Union of Education and Science.

Image: Imago | joker

“Now, of course, there are also Ukrainian children,” says the trade unionist, adding: “Nursery schools are faced with a real dilemma.” She is curious about the answers from politics. This is not just about the transition year of daycare, but generally looking after children in daycare centers.

“Children learn best from children,” says Schüll. For this reason alone, politicians must finally do everything possible to provide the nursery schools in Bremen well in the long term and thus ensure that there are places for all children, even and especially in districts such as Gröpelingen. “Then you wouldn’t need the kindergarten bridge year,” says Schüll.

This topic in the program:
buten un binnen, March 24, 2022, 7:30 pm

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