There are children who have to carry a heavy backpack from an early age. There are many reasons: families are burdened by illness or death, children grow up with drug addicts or mentally ill parents, or they have had to flee war zones with their parents. Children who have had to go through traumatic experiences at such an early age have particular difficulty coping with life. It is also evident in school. Anyone who can not handle their emotions and instead throws chairs or tilts out is offensive. With these complex burdened children, the school system is reaching its limits. In Hamburg, the school authorities, together with the youth welfare service, are taking a different approach to helping these children: with a museum class in Open-air museum at Kiekeberg.
Museum class open-air museum at Kiekeberg: Key to high participation
Today, the children in the museum class make sheep dolls from thick cardboard rolls and real sheep wool. Anton is focused: “I had to saw my head with a bread knife.” A child glues the sheep’s wool on his puppet. There is silence in the class – this is not always the case, says specialist teacher Birte Meinberg: “A big problem with children is that they can not handle frustration, that they have never learned how to handle it. “For example, chairs are thrown, papers are torn or the children fight with each other. And then they start beating each other.”
In a normal class, the parents would then be called to pick up the child. In the museum class, the teachers live with the child. Whatever he did in his anger, social worker Friederike Schwartau says: “We need to give the children time and be patient to keep looking: How can we do it differently next time? We try different techniques. First of all: Where does it come from? my anger from? It’s the first point to acknowledge this and then see: How can you handle it? What else can there be? Then maybe that’s the impetus for me to run around the house and not throw the hammer. “
In the museum class, the educators can do it because the supervision ratio is extremely high. As a rule, there are two teachers for every four to six children. Without accompanying the children in their anger – the open-air museum at Kiekeberg is particularly well-suited for this: “We are in an incredibly declining place. You can let the stress melt away – through nature, the old buildings,” says Schwartau.
Museum class: A safe place for children
There are also many opportunities to learn differently than in school. Each child can be accompanied individually as needed. The museum class will be a “safe place” for the children, where they can make crafts, cook and plant pray as well as read, write and count, says Astrid Römelt from Harburg Regional Education and Counseling Center: “There are these islands. Here where the children can experience: “After all, I can do anything. And where they can regain a hope that it can develop positively. They come with a negative self-image – they no longer believe that they will become something, they can do something. And part of that hope can grow again here. Because there are so many possibilities, without a school context, where the children can pick something up, try something and realize: I can do it. “
And those who develop self-esteem and a new desire to learn are less likely to become angry and frustrated. The children stay in the museum class for one to one and a half years – then they are scheduled to be reintegrated at other schools. The museum class in the open-air museum at Kiekeberg has now existed for almost two years. The first children who have been through the museum class have already been integrated, says Römelt.