by Beate Kroeger-Müller
Jonas is 6 years old. I interviewed him by use of the „Questionnaire on Child’s Interests„.
He answers the question “What do you like playing?” by naming a game he has made up himself, a role playing game:
“The Two Magical Cats”.
The answer to the next question, “What are you really good at?” is the same:
“The Two Magical Cats”.
The games Jonas comes up with are often very imaginative. His playing ideas are original in the sense of unique in a way that I have not seen before. His oftentimes naïve and easy-going contents of his playing ideas lend an air of the unconventional to his role playing games. The multitude of ideas itself, which he comes up with on a daily basis, is remarkable.
These imaginative games are a substantial basis for the further development of creative processes, in which Jonas can implement his imagination and his speech even more.
The question what he wants to learn he answers like this:
“Languages – with a foreign language and my own language I could make up a secret language.”
In the language department Jonas is definitely ahead. He disposes of an extraordinarily large vocabulary for his age. His speech is expressive elaborate and fluent. He experiences a rare joy in all communicative processes. He is quite aware that his “being able to talk” is out of the ordinary and he likes to make use of it wherever he can.
Jonas’ entire attitude towards new things, that might interest him and stimulate him intellectually, is exposed in the answers to the following questions:
„What would you like to get better at?“
When asked what bothers him he answers:
“Baby stuff like the sandman.”
„What is your favourite book?“ Answer:
“Christ Child’s Journey, because there they describe Christmas the way it’s supposed to be.”
„What do you like doing best?“
“Looking into books if they are interesting or exciting for me.”
„What is your favourite show on TV?“
“Die Sendung mit der Maus [The Show with the Mouse – German educational children’s TV show], they always show funny, new and interesting things.”
„What is your ‘question on life’?“
“How the world has been created and what else comes from this world.”
Jonas wants to understand the world and its structure, he wants to get behind the meaning of it all – and with all his senses, if possible. He is not satisfied with simply taking a good look, he puts all his curiosity and enquiring mind to getting to the bottom of things. He is on a quest for answers to issues which deal fundamentally with his relating to his own life and to the world. He wants to discover and explore what nature gives us – what is ‘naturally given’.
Jonas does not learn primarily for the accumulation of knowledge. He tries to make imaginative and creative use of his knowledge to illuminate a phenomenon. His thinking is versatile and lets him rethink or change perspectives swiftly and easily.
When asked “Who do like playing with the most?” he immediately names his best friend Jonathan (5;8). And then, after quite some time, he hesitantly names Torben and Melvin (both 5;4), with the addendum:
“… if it works out ok.”
What was difficult for you in kindergarten?
“Playing with the other children, because I only know how to play right with Jonathan – and in (…his hometown…) I have only a few friends.”
My question, what else he would like to learn in his last year at kindergarten, he answers like this:
“How can I learn to play right with the other children, too, so that I can have more friends?”
The way I see it, for 6-years-old this answer shows a great measure of self-reflection and a solid and realistic self assessment in conjunction with a deep yearning for more friends and long-lasting relationships with them. More than ever Jonas is suffering from the problem that he does not quite seem to really get into the game with other children and this increasingly makes him feel lonely. What Jonas has to learn is to distinguish between self-assertion and social behaviour so that he may be able to adjust his conduct as the given situation requires.
Jonas is well aware of his strengths, and he knows to articulate his weaknesses, too, as in the case of the question:
„Is there anything that really bothers you?“
“It bothers me when another child gets into the space where Jonathan and I are playing.”
One reason for social problems may lie in his advanced verbal skills. Jonas will soon dominate the course of a game being played, or he changes the plot, the rules and contents of a game which other children have begun, without involving them in the process. Until now Jonas has not been able to understand that this is not how you make friends, even though he is always trying to improve his speech and expression to explain things even better.
He tends to experience a larger group (for instance a group of 4 or 5 children romping around outside) as threatening and he feels he has to defend himself.
These assessments have led to the idea of a project:
Making Friends in the Researchers’ Club.
Published in German: February 2012
Copyright © Beate Kroeger-Müller, see Imprint
Translation: Arno Zucknick