Preschool & Kindergarten
Our early childhood programs employ a play-based and project-oriented approach widely used in Germany. In-class projects are developed by an interdisciplinary team based on observation of children’s interests and recurring events in the school calendar, covering content areas such as language, intercultural studies, science, mathematics, music, movement, and art.
Our early childhood program is built on four pillars:
- Employing the principles of early immersion to build and expand children’s communicative competencies in German and English.
- Developing children’s social-emotional skills.
- Using a play-based approach in which free play and guided forms of play complement each other to teach and inspire.
- Engaging in multidimensional class projects inspired by children’s observed interests and seasonal rhythms and festivities.
Immersion – meaning “to become completely involved in something” – is a widely used and scientifically proven method for learning and teaching language. Early immersion does not rely on a direct instructional approach. Rather, children acquire language in a playful manner, simply by being exposed to it in preschool and/or kindergarten during daily routines and activities that are engaging and meaningful to them. Recurring situations, such as the morning circle with its songs, nursery rhymes, and intentional conversations, as well as shared reading of picture books are ideally suited to supporting children’s language learning.
The learning path of children without prior knowledge of German follows a sequence similar to their acquisition of their native language. Children familiarize themselves with the prosodic (structure and intonation) patterns of German, identify separate words within the continuous speech stream, and link them with meaning. By building a comprehensive receptive vocabulary in German, children fulfill a key prerequisite for later learning of German grammar rules. It is perfectly normal for children to make mistakes when expressing themselves in their new language, and these mistakes resolve themselves over time, just as when children acquire their first language.
Teachers support children’s language learning by using head and hand gestures as well as visual material, thereby helping children map words to meanings and facilitating their overall comprehension. In general, our teachers follow the principle of “one person one language.” In other words, one classroom teacher responds to children in that teacher’s assigned target language, whether it is German or English, even when addressed in the other language.
When noticing mistakes in children’s attempts to communicate in German, teachers provide corrective feedback in an encouraging and supportive manner by modeling the correct form. Beginning learners of German will sometimes use select words from other languages within their German phrases:
"Ich baue jetzt ein street."
I’m building a street.
Teachers will replace the target word and expand the child’s utterance in the following way:
"Aha, du baust eine Straße. Das wird aber eine lange Straße! Wohin führt denn deine Straße?"
Aha, you’re building a street. That will be a long street! Where does the street lead?
Hearing the same word several times and within varied contexts helps the child establish a clear understanding of the word in his or her inner lexicon. It also helps the child to incorporate the word into his or her active (spoken) vocabulary.
Especially in the beginning, our bilingual teachers will actively build connections between English and German for children whose home language is English. This principle is based on a key insight from the science of learning: We learn best when we can connect new material to our existing knowledge. For example, while the class is gathered around the lunch table, the children engage in a conversation in German about mice (Mäuse) and mousetraps (Mausefallen). A girl who is new to the group exclaims:
"My father also once caught a lot of mouses!"
The teacher recasts:
"That’s great! Your father also once caught a lot of mice! Er hat auch ganz viele Mäuse gefangen."
The regular program hours for Preschool and Kindergarten are 8:45am - 2:00pm each day from Monday through Friday. We offer flexible drop off between 8am and 8:45am.
EBGIS offers a Full-Day Program providing an after-school care option daily until 6 pm at an additional cost. Many working families find the Full-Day Program convenient and our students enjoy the diverse enrichment activities and time to relax and play with friends.