Keeping up

Mathias Maurer

Kindergarten is no longer a place in which children in the course of the morning experience a comprehensible and manageable part of the day with the same early-years teachers, and school is no longer just a place in which a stable class is taught in a classroom. The professionalisation of care is increasing, the free time of children and pupils disappearing.

The establishments are reacting to the demand from parents by setting up individual measures in which they gradually expand their provision. This patchwork has meanwhile grown into a heavyweight and expensive appendage. There are few cases in which there is a coherent educational concept which includes the afternoon as an equal element in the provision of the establishment.

This can be clearly seen in how the professionals are deployed: in kindergarten it is often “cheaper” placement students taking on the care and in schools it is the early-years teachers. At the same time the state’s care regulations are adopted because of state funding, for example with regard to staff numbers or the way the space should be organised. Meaningful coherent all-day concepts are needed and increased educational collaboration among the staff on an equal basis.

Waldorf all day long: the educationally pervaded living space which is offered to the children and pupils demands a more intensive educational partnership between teachers, early-years teachers and parents, without discriminating against parents who – for whatever reason – have their children looked after from 7.00 in the morning until 6.00 at night or alternatively want to have them home at 12.00 for lunch.

That can easily happen: “What, you’ve (still) not returned to work?” Or: “We want and can afford to have the children at home.” For the latter it can happen that this option is no longer available in an all-day school or kindergarten because the norm and primary relationship group – certainly for the child – is no longer the family but (outside) care in an establishment. It would be a pity if the family were indirectly discriminated against as a result. It is a surprise to be accused of conservative values when defending the family as a desirable centre of the child’s world.

Because – for all the compensatory educational effort and all the human commitment from the early-years teachers and teachers – from the perspective of the child kindergarten and school are only a substitute for what families cannot or do not want to do. And in this respect the needs of the child can deviate considerably from those of the parents. Yet all-day school provisions can be a sensible alternative if the child is not just “looked after” but there are genuine familial tasks which embed the child and provide them with the possibility of individual development and firm attachments.