The school I teach at is small and friendly. I am in a first grade classroom with 22 children. The children are so sweet and wanted to know all about me. The first day we did an introduction for the children to ask us questions. First, it started out with them telling us their names, and then they told us their numbers in English. The school doesn't have a lunch room, so the students bring a snack from home but do not eat lunch at school. The school I am at are done at noon most days. The children go home to eat with their families. Also the children have about a half hour of out side play time. They don't have a playground, just a few scooters and balls to play with. It is very interesting to watch them make believe and really build relationships with each other.
I also went with the little girl I live with to her kindergarten class. This is equivalent to preschool in the U.S. This was interesting to me because I am doing my research project on unstructured and structured play in both America and Germany. After seeing how the first graders do a lot of unstructured play, it was interesting to see that in the kindergarten the students mostly participate in unstructured play as well. However, there are some times they play in a more structured envioronment. The kindergarten has rooms for the different subjects, for instance there is a science room which has real materials to do science experiments, a math room, napping room that has bunk beads for those who need to sleep. There are also art rooms, that have materials needed to create different forms of art and a construction room where the children use real saws and hammers to create their masterpieces. In most of these rooms the children have to show they can use some of the items by "passing" the test. They get their picture taken and then they have cards that they show that they can use an item. In the U.S. we give the children pretend saws and hammers, and instruct children on how we use materials for certain things. In addition, their playground was centered around the kids and using different materials to create an amazing play area for the kids. From my observations Germany is more centered around their kids and how they play than we are back in America. Also the children appear to have independence and the parents allow children their space to learn and create without interference. In the German culture they believe this is how the children will learn what is right and wrong, and also this will show the children their limitations and help set boundaries.
So far my first week has been very exciting. It has been a pleasure learning from my host family and getting to know them. In addition it has been a pleasure being in the schools and being able to see how the children interact with each other, and the differences from the United States. I am enjoying every minute of this trip and I am looking forward to taking back so many experiences as well as tools to use in my own classroom someday.