Democracy can be learnt!
The children who attend our nurseries, kindergartens and after-school care centres today will, in future, be shaping our society. If we want this society to be characterised by freedom, the peaceful co-existence of its citizens, justice and opportunities for genuine participation and involvement, then children have to become familiar with and absorb democratic values from early childhood. They have to see and experience how democratic cooperation works and all the things that this involves.
Democracy education – insights into day-to-day practice on the ground
Children’s right to participation is firmly anchored in the FROEBEL mission statement. And our early childhood professionals put this right into practice in their day-to-day teaching. Even the youngest children in FROEBEL kindergartens have a say in how to structure the day, what things should be bought or what the menu options will be.
In more and more centres there are children’s parliaments that meet regularly, and many other opportunities to participate. Children who come to us learn at an early stage to make their voice heard, to make decisions together and to agree on solutions to problems. In so doing, they learn that their voice is important. And they also learn how non-violent negotiation works and that sometimes you have to concede if what you would like doesn’t find a majority.
The project “Children experience politics – from the very start”
With our initiative “Children experience politics”, we would like to enable children to gain experience of involvement, participation and making a difference outside of the kindergarten and after-school care centre too.
The idea behind this project is that representatives from state or local parliaments enter into firm partnerships with FROEBEL kindergartens. During the lifetime of the project (approximately one kindergarten year), they visit the kindergartens regularly. Possible activities are games, reading out aloud or trips within the local neighbourhood with the group of children. If the children would like to, they can also invite the representatives to a meeting of the children’s parliament.
In parallel with these activities, there is project work in the kindergarten, for example on the topic “City of the future”. The results can be presented at a concluding meeting of the children or in the town hall or parliament building.
Aims of the project:
- To get children interested in politics and democracy from early childhood. This works best through giving them contact with inspiring individuals who are active in relevant areas of social policy.
- To raise the awareness of representatives for the view of children of their neighbourhood, their city and the world. Ideally, to win these politicians over as ambassadors for the interests of children.
- To reach and involve families, for example by encouraging them to accompany the children on trips to constituency offices, parliaments and town halls, and by securing their close involvement in the content of individual phases of the project.
- To make more visible the importance of good early education in local and state politics.
The project is primarily targeted at children in the final or penultimate year of kindergarten. Groups of up to 25 children are possible.
Numerous centres have already succeeded in gaining the enthusiastic support of political representatives for a sponsorship role. We are delighted to hear from anyone else who is interested. Please speak to the FROEBEL centre near you.