The children in the Philipp-Reis school yard are curious, attentive and concentrated. In doing so, they do something that will probably arouse great reluctance among many school children: They take part in a three-week long German training course – during the long holidays. “Crawling and smelling, it rhymes. Do you still remember which word rhymes with drink?” says Silvana Kumari, specialist in German as a second language. “Wave!” shouts the third year sitting in the shadows on the floor in front of her. In the days before, the group had already explored the difference in meaning of the words “walk”, “run” and “ran”, and explored the difference between “clever”, “intelligent” and “clever”. The 27 primary school children, some of whom have not learned German as their mother tongue, are introduced to the language of instruction in a welcoming and imaginative, attentive and respectful way. With the support of specialists from the fields of social pedagogy, theater teaching and German as a second language, the children improve their German language skills in a playful way and strengthen their social skills at the same time. The motto of the language support project of the Polytechnic Society Frankfurt am Main fits: “German summer – holidays that make you smart”. The participants come from four schools in and around Gelnhausen. In addition to the Philipp Reis School, there is the Ysenburg School in Hailer, the Igel Elementary School in Höchst and the Geisberg School in Linsengericht. From 8.00 to 15.30 the children play and learn together. A special highlight is the shared lunch, prepared by the catering service “Die Heinzelmännchen”.
District administrator Thorsten Stolz visited the creative project, which is financed by the Hessian Ministry of Education through the state program “Löwenstark – der BildungsKick”, at its Main-Kinzig district premiere last summer and did not want to take it during this summer vacation either leave to visit the other edition. “Children learn well through play and with all their senses, and what they have learned is easier to remember. Main-Kinzig-Kreis supports the project by making the premises of the Philipp-Reis school available. The adult education center of the Main-Kinzig education partner also supports the event,” said the district administrator. He thanked everyone involved for their great commitment: “Without the common spirit that can be felt in the team and without the good cooperation of everyone, the whole thing would not be so successful . That would be a shame, especially for the kids, who are obviously having a lot of fun with it.” Sonja Litzenberger, head of the State Education Authority in the Main-Kinzig district, also thanked everyone involved for their great commitment, stressing: “It is very impressive to see everyone come together and focus on improving their German skills for a few weeks . It is equally impressive how the children, who are all different, are motivated to learn in different ways by addressing the different input channels – sight, hearing, touch. This is how the children are strengthened. They recognize: “I can do something ” – and benefit from it in the long term. After all, learning German as a language of instruction is the basis for a good education and successful integration.”
The participants are divided into two groups of 13 and 14 children respectively. They are taught German and theater two hours a day by two teachers each. Social educators design the leisure program in the afternoon, reported Carola Mundo and Claudia Volcksdorff, the two coordinators of “the German summer”. “Both the children and all the caregivers are having a lot of fun and are even more engaged,” confirmed Carola Mundo.
An integral part of the project, which wants to make the primary school students brave and self-confident, is the development of a play. At the end of “German Summer” it is performed by the children. This summer, the tutors chose Astrid Lindgren’s “Ronja Räubertochter”. In response to the district administrator’s question about what the children especially enjoy about the “German summer,” a boy exclaimed. “Playing theater!” and a girl: “That we sometimes play and sometimes learn!” She summarized the pedagogical and didactic concept in a way that was as succinct as it was successful. District administrator Thorsten Stolz was very impressed with the language support project in the second year: “Language is a key factor for educational success. It is the key to successful integration and the foundation of good training. As children get to know the German language better and are introduced to its subtleties during the “German summer”, they get a real learning boost. I think it is extremely important that no one is left behind in our education system.”
The visit of District Administrator Thorsten Stolz and Sonja Litzenberger was also attended by Anne Stübing from the Main-Kinzig District State Education Authority, who proposed the project to the Main-Kinzig District. School psychologist Annette Winderling and Alexander Wicker and Vera Mala from Main-Kinzig education partners also took the opportunity to exchange ideas. +++ at