by Margit Bernsmann


With regard to the observations, conversations and activities I had conducted with Marcus and because he wished to talk to me alone, I have decided to do the Questionnaire on Child’s Interests.

In this process Marcus can decide on the tempo and the procedure himself. It took us four mornings altogether, which includes the time spent playing some games that he had brought to our sessions.

Even though he was a little unnerved by some questions he thought were pure repetitions of previous questions, on the whole he enjoyed the sessions and would remind me of our planned activity early every morning. He then waited patiently until I had taken care of the day’s most urgent business (being the manager and exempted from direct childcare duties) and was able to turn towards our joint work on the questionnaire.

And this is how the interview went:

He finds it hard to deal with the question, what his favourite playing activity is. He keeps digressing and speaks about home and his little sister and other things. Finally he answers shortly:

“The magnets game.”

And what else?

“The Eskimo game, I got it for Christmas.”

There is no more explanation. After a little while of reflection he asks me whether he would be allowed to bring the games and play them with me alone. Of course, that’s what we do.

The magnets game is a set of little magnetic sticks and spheres which can be assembled in a multitude of ways and calls for interesting and experimental playing. The way I see it, this game requires very abstract thinking and great joy in experimenting for a pre-school child. Additionally some knowledge about magnetism or at least the readiness to learn about it is needed. Marcus would not let other children join in on the game for fear that some of the tiny parts might get lost.

The Eskimo game, a strategy game, he played only with me alone at first. It seemed to give him great satisfaction to be able to explain the game to me, here he was the expert. Subsequently he did play it together with his friends and again enjoyed being the proud owner and expert of the game.

Upon the question who he likes to play with the most he names four children, who are just about to enrol at school. It is quite obvious that he has hardly any contact to younger children, and it can be observed that he frequently seeks the company of children from the after-school care club.
However, he does deny when being asked whether he has a special friend.

He answers the question what he likes to collect:

“Trash for crafting! I took the cardboard box from the computer and the styrofoam, that was in it, and built a slide with it in our garden and then I did experiments with it.
And I have a shark’s tooth from South Africa, it was just lying around there on the beach, now it’s my treasure.”

Marcus considers himself a good climber.

“You know, I have a thick rope and I tie it to my swing and make many knots – a slip knot wouldn’t work, it would come loose.”

Next thing is an expert talk on different knots and the highest mountain in the world.

And he wants to become better at climbing:

“Get better at climbing. We have a magazine at home and I always look into it. I can’t read yet, but it would be nice if I could.”

What’s your favourite activity in kindergarten?

“Digging in the sand, building houses and digging for foundations.”

What do you not like about kindergarten? And Why?

“That I can’t hit anybody.”

Marcus gives me an impish look when answering, he has noticed my questioning look and explains:

“I don’t really want to hit anybody at all, but sometimes there is no other way.”

What is difficult for you in kindergarten?


Is there anything that often bothers you?

“That children take things away; I go to the toilet and, before I know it, something is gone.”

Being asked what his favourite book is and what he likes about it, he answers:

“Oskar, the Easter Bunny. I think it’s funny and nice. The bunny destroys half of the world in order to build a house. I want to build houses when I grow up.”

Marcus is a great construction artist. He experiments with different building blocks, currently he is examining the workings of a lever.

What are your favourite shows on TV and on the radio?

“The ‘Sendung mit der Maus’ [Show with the Mouse – an educational children’s TV show in Germany], because you can learn so much.”

What would you like to learn?

“How to write. I can read already.”

Write down or draw something that you have done and that made you really proud of yourself.
This task was put off by Marcus and it is yet to be done.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

“A blacksmith, like in ‘Bibi Blocksberg’.”

[A German Children’s book series, also a TV show.]

You meet an old woman who knows everything about the world and about life. What would you ask her?

“If she could teach me how to write.”

What else?

“How the air gets up to the sky and whether there are angels – but I don’t really believe that, that’s just what parents say. Nobody can live in the sky.”

Imagine a fantasy animal and make a drawing of it here. What do you call it?

— Dickschwänzer: Bigtail —

After some initial problems to get into the questions Marcus loosened up over time and made use of the time spent with me and enjoyed it. It was he who chose the place for our meetings: it was the office that seemed appropriate to him – regarding the importance of our activity.


Published in German: January 2012
Copyright © Margit Bernsmann, see Imprint
Translation: Arno Zucknick