Ukrainian children attend a welcome class at Karl Lederer primary school

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Of: Suzanne Weiss


A welcome change: In one match, the girls and boys from Ukraine have to keep the ball up. Communicators Tanja Schwarz (back, right) and Olga Kaliankina (back, left) look after the six-decade-olds in the welcome class at Karl Lederer primary school. © sh

Ukrainian children learn German and pedagogy in their own class. A visit to the welcome group at Karl Lederer primary school.

Geretsried – Karl Lederer primary school is used to accepting children from other nations who speak little or no German. But this time there is a problem. “For the parents, the kids and us,” says principal Elke Goymann. No one knows how long the families from Ukraine will stay in Geretsried in Germany. That is why the government has set up welcome classes (see box below). One of the twelve in the district is at Karl Lederer primary school.

Who comes and goes can not be planned

No one had any experience with such a group. “We have come up with a concept with teaching German as a second language and rituals that ensure fixed structures,” Goymann explains. It is a come and go in the welcome class. Only five of the children who were there when it started after Easter are still there. Two have already returned to Ukraine. New kids keep coming. 13 young Ukrainians are currently enrolled at the Karl Lederer Elementary School.

This morning, five girls and six boys between the ages of six and ten are practicing verbs. Pictures of the activity hang on the board with the appropriate words below, such as “read”, “write” or “play”. The students also got to know nouns in this way. “We will slowly get to the point where we form whole sentences,” explains Tanja Schwarz.

The mediator and coach already know the Geretsried school because she offers conflict resolution to the young people there every week. That’s how she got the job in the welcome class. She alternates with Petra Lug, who teaches German as a second language (DaZ), and Tanja Brinkmann from TuS Geretsried, who plays sports with the children. Coaches from the Startchance Foundation help to repeat what has been learned. Also on the team are an integration assistant, a special educator, an assistant teacher and Olga Kaliankina, who is currently doing a voluntary social year (FSJ) in the youth and social association. The latter is in the welcome class this morning with Tanja Schwarz.

FSJlerin from Ukraine helps with the translation

After the break, the mediator, the calming influence in the room, will play with the girls and boys. Learning is exhausting for children. “We want to pick them up, bring them together, welcome them.” Schwarz pulls a sheet with a hole in the middle out of his pocket and holds a ball in the air. Have the children maneuver it around in a circle over the fabric without it falling off. “How many laps can we drive?” she asks. Olga Kaliankina translates, the students answer “30” in Ukrainian, which the 18-year-old again passes on to Schwarz.

Olga Kaliankina, with curly hair and a ring in her nose, is Ukrainian but not a war refugee. The 18-year-old moved to Germany with his mother and sister three years ago. She comes from near Kharkiv. During the Corona period, she mainly learned the language in distance learning. “It also helped a lot that my stepfather only speaks German,” says the FSJ student. Being able to help the children from their homeland in this difficult time is “simply perfect”. But she does not want to translate too much. “I have to learn German, and so do the kids,” says Kaliankina, laughing.

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Meanwhile, the girls and boys have mastered the group exercise. Until they are picked up by their parents, the girls Olena and Galina, both with blonde pigtails and a pink T-shirt, play with a ballpoint pen that reads learning materials from an exercise book. A group around Pavlo, a tall boy, sits down at a round table with the card game UNO. Vova and Nikita relax in the corner bags with a book.

There is a blackboard and a desk in the welcome class. But in addition to the classic school desks, the children also have alternative seating. “It should not just be a classroom, but also comfortable,” Goymann explains after school. The principal emphasizes that she is very grateful that the city has put the classroom in order. “It used to be an extra room for lunch supervision.” For the door decoration, the children drew their hands on construction paper, cut them out and wrote their names on them. “They had all the colors to choose from,” Schwarz says. They used only blue and yellow – the Ukrainian national colors.

Each child should be encouraged individually

It is voluntary to participate in the welcome class. Children only need to go to school after a three-month stay in Germany. “I have the impression that the kids like to go here,” Goymann says. Tanja Schwarz also notes that the children have become more open in recent weeks. “It’s good for them to have a structure,” says the broker. DaZ homework is also being made more and more reliable.

For two days, the Ukrainian students in the regular class in their respective grade levels per. hour. “Depending on how it suits the individual children,” says Goymann. The young people’s level of learning is very different, Schwarz adds. “Some children only write in Cyrillic, some can already read our manuscript.” But: “Everyone feels really good when you think about the circumstances under which they arrived here.”

The situation is just as challenging for the school family. A total of 480 girls and boys participate in the facility on Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Strasse. In addition to the Ukrainians, six children of former local employees from Afghanistan have recently arrived. They were integrated directly into their classes, they are taken out for the DaZ classes. You will most likely stay in Germany. No one knows about the Ukrainians. But they should at least feel welcome.

Suzanne Weiss

You can read all further information about the Ukraine War and its effects in Bavaria here on our Ukraine Refugees topic page.

Keywords: welcome class

According to the framework concept of the Ministry of Education, welcome classes or educational welcome groups must enable the children and young people who have fled Ukraine to settle well in the Bavarian schools. The purpose is to convey security and safety and give young people the opportunity to get to know everyday school life in their country of arrival. In addition, the wishes of many Ukrainian families should be met so that their children can maintain the connection to their Ukrainian homeland in the country of arrival. The first pedagogical welcome group in the district was at the primary school in Kochel am See. According to the district office, it was “just very minimized due to the large fluctuation. They are currently visiting seven children. In addition to the offer at the Karl Lederer school in Geretsried, there are two classes at the Lettenholz school in Bad Tölz with a total of 28 children and one in Wolfratshausen with 16 primary school children. At secondary level 1, 15 Ukrainians attend Benediktbeuern Middle School, 18 attend Waldram Middle School, 31 attend Realschule Bad Tölz (two welcome classes) and 37 attend Geretsried High School (three welcome classes). This means that 165 children and young people will be cared for in twelve educational welcome groups in the district. According to the district office, there is also a new German class with 15 students at the business school Bad Tölz, which can be compared to an educational welcome group.

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