Contact person: Barbara Eglitis
Coordinating organisation: Grenzenlos
Host: Kindergruppe Gatschhüpfer: http://www.experience-austria.org
Location: Vienna, Austria
The “Kindergruppe Gatschhüpfer” (the German word for children´s group of mud-hopper) is a kindergarten close to nature where children are out of doors, playing in nature all-season.
In case of bad weather conditions the children can warm up or get dry inside a large Mongolian nomad tent (a yurt) or their nearby kindergarten room.
The Yurt is located in natural environment, beautiful scenery surrounded by meadow and woods.
In May 2009 the kinder group “Gatschhüpfer” was founded by parents who got sick of the conventional kindergarten, where children spend a good deal of the time indoors and the groups of children are far too big. The “Gatschhüpfer”-group simply consists of 14 children between 2-6 years old, in company with 2 educators. In total there are 4 kindergarten teachers (Alex, Peter, Heimo, Linda) who are trained in Montessori- and Moto-pedagogical skills and expertise.
The concept of a “Kinder group” is different to the conventional Kindergarten. In a Kinder group children have the possibility to play in a more free way. There is enough time for them to enrol themselves. And with the “Gatschhüpfer” they do so outdoors mostly. Due to the reduced number of children the atmosphere is more familiar and cosy then in a conventional Kindergarten. Also the learning of social skills is more beneficial in a small group. So they learn to cope with conflicts and they establish and intensify their relationships.
Once a week Heimo provides his service to the kinder group. He is a zoologist from the University of Vienna. They discover the flora and fauna together with him and the children benefit a lot from his knowledge.
The educators offer various project activities along the seasons. A good example is the winter project:”How do humans and animals survive winter season outdoors?” The children learned how to dress properly and they got to know various materials, like wool, leather and artificially produced fabrics like gore-tex. (In summer they visited sheep farming where they could watch the sheep-shearing.) They also got to know how Inuit survive winter. Since the children have been very enthusiastic about this, they built themselves a big igloo. Furthermore they discover the tracks of animals in the snow and watch birds at their feeding station. Even the fox and the wild boar are their neighbours. That´s quite exiting!
Your day starts at around 8.30. You meet the group at the metro station Heiligenstadt and together with the two kindergarten teachers you take the children by bus up to the Kahlenberg. Enjoying the beautiful view on Vienna, the children sing their morning song and welcome everybody. Then the group takes a walk through the grassland and the nearby forest. For sure they will find some interesting stones or animals to watch on your way and perhaps there will be enough time to play on one of the beautiful playgrounds. If the walk takes a long time, everybody arrives hungry. Then they will have a picnic. The walk ends at the kindergarten grassland. One of the team starts the fire to heat the mongolian yurt while the others play at the huge meadow. There is enough time for the children to find their own games. At around 12 o’clock it’s time for lunch. One of the team prepares the kindergarten room for having lunch (arrange tables and chairs and set the table, then fetch the meals from the cantina), while the others take a small walk with the children towards the room. There you help the children washing their hands and support the team during lunch time. After lunch it´s time to clean the kitchen, and for the children it´s time to relax, reading books or playing quiet games. Then you leave the room again. While the group takes a long walk or stops at the big playground area, one of the team accompanies the younger children back to the tent, so they can have a nap. Round 14.30 or 15.00, the first parents arrive to take their children home. Also for you, it’s time to leave the magical Vienna Forest. Because you are an international volunteer, the children will be very interested in where you come from and how the every-day life is like in your country. For sure they will ask you about animals and plants at home. Perhaps you want to start a country project. You can take some photos with you to create a big collage together with the children, or you could teach them some words or songs in your language. ■ FACTS & NUMBERS Employees: 4 Part-Time: Alexandra 4 days, Peter 3 days, Linda 2 Days, Heimo 1 day Experience with international volunteers: 2 Support for volunteers: All our interns have training days, where they stay with the group and watch. Bit by bit they learn about the needs of the children, so the interns can start to support the team.
The volunteer should like children and respect their needs, enjoy being outdoors regardless of weather conditions. Note that you have to bring proper clothes like Rain jacket, very warm jacket, waterproof shoes etc) She or he should be a good teamplayer and support the team during the day. It would be perfect, if the volunteer has already experience in working with children (babysitting, younger brother or sister, internship in a kindergarten etc)
Send your Volunteers Motivation letter together with your CV to grenzenlos: firstname.lastname@example.org The selection will be made by the Hosting project itself.