Lecture at the 4th IHVO symposium on 5.5.07
by Gabriele Drescher-Krumrey
The „Power Girls´ Club“ was a learning group in my kindergarten which I developed within the framework of my IHVO Certificate Course.
The starting point was my observation over many years that many girls
- are very sensible,
- are well-behaved,
- are well-adjusted,
- are always helpful,
- are more easily persuaded,
- are quieter in play,
- show more understanding for others (have to? should?),
- put their own needs aside relatively quickly due to outside influence.
With my club, I wanted to provide a new environment for girls to learn. They should gain experience of what it is like to go on a journey of discovery only with girls.
The layout, course and evaluation of the individual club lessons are described here:
1st-5th club hours: What is a Power Girl?
6th club hour: Carrot Experiment
7th-11th, 15th-18th, 21st club hours: World of Professions
For me personally, I was able to try out my idea of leading a same-sex group at kindergarten age as part of my additional qualification at IHVO. I deliberately chose the girls‘ group because I had been interested in this topic for a long time. At the same time, I regretted that due to time constraints I could not lead the boys‘ group at the same time, which was led by a colleague of mine.
Otherwise, my experiences would certainly have been more varied and meaningful with regard to the different behaviour of boys and girls in same-sex kindergarten learning groups. In the meantime, I have led a group with only boys for over two months and have also gained some experience in this regard.
For my IHVO work, I should choose a child in my kindergarten who is as gifted as possible and observe his or her development over the entire course time.
When I observed our kindergarten children intensively, I made an interesting discovery, especially with Lina (name changed): I noticed that Lina adjusted, you could say, perfectly to her „environment“ and their expectations of her and fulfilled them.
In kindergarten, Lina stood out because of her very calm, reliable, persistent, prudent, observant, social and also ambitious behaviour. Lina did not express that she was bored, nor did she stand out for aggressive behaviour.
She was the oldest of three siblings (two girls and one boy), Lina was 5;4 years old when the club started. The parents informed us in a conversation that Lina fulfils all requirements at home safely and reliably. They did not observe any special interests or talents, they had only noticed that Lina was bored by all picture books and left the book selection to her parents or siblings.
Since I was employed as a director in the kindergarten, it made sense to interview my colleagues who work in Lina’s group.
My colleagues had noticed for a few weeks that Lina often took over tasks from the kindergarten teachers by asking the children to abide by rules and boundaries. The children accepted Lina in her role, but my colleagues were worried whether the children would accept this in the long run. They tried to relieve Lina and make it clear to her through conversations that she was not responsible for the other children and their behaviour.
In the four weeks before, she had done a lot of weaving and embroidery. From time to time, she was also in our movement room and had joined in dancing, building huts, was happy, exuberant and had also joined in singing and shouting loudly.
This was a change in Lina’s behaviour, in our opinion an important developmental step for her.
I wanted to recognise Lina’s hidden abilities and talents and find reasons for her behaviour through my observations in everyday life and during free play activities.
Through my targeted observations, I wanted to recognise a possible special talent or giftedness in order to be able to accompany and support Lina appropriately in her development.
During my observations, I had not yet identified any special interests or talents in Lina, nor did Lina make any demands of her own or share her special interests. This experience motivated me to found the „Power Girls´ Club“. I wanted to offer Lina and the other girls the opportunity to find out about their special interests, talents and abilities.
The following points led me to put Lina at the centre of my considerations:
- Lina is a girl.
- Lina stays in our institution for a longer period of time.
- Lina finds her picture books at home uninteresting.
- Lina is very ambitious, persistent and determined in new tasks that interest her.
- Lina observes intensively what is happening around her.
- Lina shows great social competence.
- Lina appears very serious and introverted.
- Lina does not make any special demands on the parents and kindergarten teachers.
I wanted to identify Lina’s hidden abilities and talents and find reasons for her behaviour through my observations in everyday life and during the free play activities.
Two observations on Lina’s social competence can be found under the title
Lina Has Pedagogic Talent.
Through targeted observations, I can recognise a possible special talent or a possible giftedness in order to then be able to accompany and support Lina appropriately in her development.
Learning opportunities I wanted to create for Lina:
Lina should learn through the holistic experiences with her person and the experiences with the other girls in the group:
- to feel and accept her self-confidence,
- to courageously demand her needs,
- to stand up for her needs,
- to also fight for her playing and learning needs.
She should not deepen her ability to relate to others, but experience:
- What can I experience with myself, for myself, with other girls?
- What gives me pleasure?
- What appeals to my needs and satisfies me?
- What desires have I discovered that were not yet clear to me?
My observations of Lina after only a few club hours were very positive for me and especially for Lina. I saw Lina more often playing games that suited her abilities and she played them more often with children of the same age in the group.
She was more cheerful when playing, laughed and jumped around the room more often between the game steps. I had not observed this behaviour before, she had been rather serious and withdrawn.
Objectives for all children in the „Power Girls‘ Club“:
I wanted to make Lina and all the „power girls“ aware of, promote and strengthen their special talents, abilities and needs. The age of the other girls was: 5;0 to 5;9 years.
Above all, these goals were important to me:
- Strengthening self-esteem.
- Recognising one’s own abilities and needs.
- Which senses and characteristics are available to them to realise their needs?
- What and how can they use their abilities and needs for themselves?
- Who can support them in realising their needs?
- With which of their own resources and abilities can they ask for help?
- Which abilities have they awakened in themselves, what do they still enjoy doing and what are they also interested in?
- How can they show their environment what interests, needs and abilities they have?
- Encourage and strengthen the ability to make contact.
- Deepen the group topic at hand.
- Expand knowledge.
- Experience learning processes in a same-sex group.
Structure and methods of the offers:
In my offers, it was important for me to consider the following points:
- Target group and child,
- choice of topic,
- reasons for the topic,
- objectives for the topic in relation to the individual child and the group,
- questions from the child’s / children’s point of view,
- encouraging all senses through holistic experiences,
- increase knowledge through the joy of learning.
The offers included the following activities:
- painting, handicrafts,
- talking, singing, calling, shouting,
- jumping, running, dancing, romping,
- meditating, dreaming, feeling, sensing,
- thinking, pondering, devising,
- doing nothing, being there,
- invent, explore, recognise,
- play theatre, perform,
- showing oneself, presenting oneself,
- experiencing joy in and with learning,
- being me.
The club hours:
The „Power Girls‘ Club“ took place regularly once a week in the kindergarten year 2005/2006. Based on my experience, I would also recommend this time frame.
The work with the „Power Girls“ was characterised by curiosity – on the part of the girls as well as myself – as to what we would discover and try out next. This meant that at no stage was it necessary to particularly motivate the girls to participate in the club.
The structure of the club lessons had the following focal points
- Knowledge development,
These points cannot always be clearly separated, as they flow into each other and are the basis of holistic support for me. The success of the club confirms this method.
The club developed a momentum of its own and it became clear to me once again that all we have to do is offer children an ideal environment and strengthen their self-confidence in a targeted way. This way, learning can be experienced, perceived and lived as a pleasure and with joy.
In the „Power Girls´ Club“, the girls found and perceived their learning field. There were seven girls in the club, six of them were very fit, only one girl had some difficulties due to her language problems. The other girls always offered her support through their social competence. I did not observe any situation where the smart girls excluded her.
The other themes in our club were based on our current topics at our kindergarten:
„Feel how it tastes!“ and
„Explorers, artists and inventors, yes that’s what interests us children!“
Conclusions on the „Power Girls´ Club“:
The „power girls“ had a variety of experiences in the club. They experimented, discovered, questioned, played, painted, moved, danced, told stories, visited, toured, got to know each other, had fun, expanded their knowledge, increased their self-confidence and developed into even stronger girls.
Lina has certainly gained the most in self-confidence, self-assurance and courage to think and act independently through the club. She has become more open-minded, happier and is better able to perceive, express and act out her feelings. As a result, she can also approach others more openly and without hesitation. Lina has built up a relationship with two girls from the club, and I hope these relationships will continue.
She showed great interest in learning to write and read at the club and she has a very good understanding of mathematics. Lina recognises essential contexts in a short time and can summarise and reproduce them.
After she felt safe in the club, she participated in the conversation more and more quickly and was also the first to speak up. Her initial wait-and-see attitude and consideration changed and she was able to take space for herself and her needs.
She likes to paint, but she does not show any special talent in painting. Her special interest is music, Lina likes to sing very much and also very well.
I have not been able to observe other topics that appeal to her interest, but she is open to all current topics and actively works on them. She faces all challenges, likes to think about them and shares her thoughts with the group.
She has experienced and gained this certainty that her thoughts and knowledge are interesting for others in the club lessons.
Lina performed the tasks in the school test very confidently, briskly and perfectly. According to the mother, the doctor was surprised and delighted by Lina and her way of working. During our school visit with all the pre-school children, Lina was able to complete all the tasks independently – and faster than the pupil accompanying her. The pupil asked me why Lina can already read and do so much arithmetic, since she wouldn’t be going to school yet. Lina said, I can already do that, but she was very happy about this experience. In the time that followed, she often told me: „I’m looking forward to school“.
All in all, all the power girls wanted to finally go to school, which was imminent for all but one of the „can-do“ girls, as they were ready for school and of school age.
(„can-do children“= children who are not yet of school age but who may be able to start school earlier because they show accelerated development.)
The „power girls“ and also I learnt that girls in a same-sex group can learn in a very cooperative, supportive, understanding and communicative way.