“Parents put pressure on themselves and their children”

Coburg – increased demands for education and less time together with their children put pressure on mothers and fathers in their upbringing. Often they forget to let their children be children for a change. A conversation with elke scheler, who has been a kindergarten teacher at the marienschule for more than 40 years: about changing times and increased demands.

Tageblatt: ms. Scheler, were parents more relaxed in the past??
Elke scheler: yes, I think so. Simply because most mothers were not employed 40 years ago. They had more time for their children. Today, most parents are both employed, and women often have to perform a difficult balancing act between work and family life. It's really not easy to reconcile the demands on all sides.

Does that mean parents care less about their children today??
No, not at all, in fact quite the opposite. Parents want to do everything 100 percent. In the many conversations we have with our parents, we notice how interested and concerned mothers and fathers are about the well-being of their children. But I also see that today they put themselves under much more pressure. They want to pack everything into the time they have with their children: tennis, horseback riding, ballet, musical challenges and much more. Doing good for their children is something that parents also wanted in the past, but in a different way: they didn't pack so many courses into the afternoon – kindergarten in the morning was enough.
Nowadays education is even more in the foreground. Demand has become a central issue. Parents ask themselves early on, will my child have a good start in school??

But that is understandable!
Yes, I understand that. But today, parents are thinking about this much earlier than in the past. And this is understandable when you see that the schools are building on the educational quality of the kindergartens. Today, kindergarten does even more with its preschool work than it did in the past. Just look at the thick catalog of the bavarian education plan, according to which we are encouraged to work.

What is included in it?
For example, project work in small groups for each age group, where we can observe the children very well and recognize their strengths. We deal intensively with topics, currently for example with architecture, which children can also experience. Or with healthy food, we bake cakes together and give everyone little tasks to do. We educators are required to keep a portfolio for each child, which means we document developmental steps, the special skills of the child, file small works of art and also note remarkable quotes and testimonies that we have heard in the language circle. Then we can always draw on a wealth of observations from the parents.

And the free play, is there still value on it?
Yes, of course. Free play in the group or outdoor exercise, climbing and romping are elementary for the healthy development of a child. We go, if the weather permits it only somehow, every day outside in the fresh air. And in the group room, just playing in the doll corner or on the pirate ship is often the best thing for the children. They learn so much through role play: rules, social behavior, or: where do I stand in the group?? How am I accepted? That is what makes them self-confident and fit for later life.

How do you see your role as an educator??
You know, a lot has changed in the past few years, the demands on us, especially in the bureaucratic area, have increased enormously, but one thing has remained the same over the years: children need a good role model in kindergarten – and that is the teachers, who lead the way with heart, commitment and humor.

But now back to parental education. What can you share with parents today based on your experience??
Giving the children more time in the afternoon. Time to invite or meet friends, to play and romp around outside – and this applies to every child's age. Parents are looking for the optimal challenge for their child, always juggling between appropriate demands and excessive demands. That's hard, I understand that only too well. But I still think that sometimes it would be better to let children develop in an unstable way, today it is too easy to "treat around", if I may say so.

What do you mean?
In the past, children were often given more individuality, so they were told to wait and see, it's just a phase, it'll come. Parents are so afraid of doing something wrong that they go to a speech therapist at the first speech impediment. With all the love and care that parents show their offspring, they could sometimes use a little more confidence and serenity today.

And let children simply be children?
Yes. Children need time for everything. For individual development. For playing at home and in kindergarten. With whom do I play what? Every game is a learning game, so to speak, that pushes, let's say challenges the child in some way. Boredom is also part of it, rest periods. Excessive demands can also be caused by too much stimulation from the outside. We educators always notice this at the beginning of the week. Children are often still tired from family celebrations and parties and the long car journeys that go with them. A long walk – and being allowed to climb trees – gives the children much more – which, by the way, used to be a matter of course.

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