The Froebel Experience: Part Three

Froebel, play, Klax and me – the links
I need to start this blog with an apology for the delay in writing it, however as the reason for the delay is because I have been busy meeting the needs of children, I am sure everyone will understand because the children must come first.

So a bit of back tracking first, just to set the scene but also to enable new readers to have opportunity to read some of the blogs linked to this one.

In early May 16, I was very lucky to take part in a trip to Germany to ‘Rediscover Froebel’ with Community Playthings. I wrote two blogs at the time – first this one: Froebel Experience and then this one Links to Froebel and me

During the visit I met a lady called Antje Bostelmann who works for Klax in Germany, and over lunch one day we chatted and exchanged contact details. From our chat (luckily Antje speaks very good English as I don’t speak any German) it seems we have a lot in common.

Roll on to June 4th 2016 and I receive a parcel in the post from Klax containing some of their publications. A quick glance at the photo’s on the covers of the publications told me I was going to like them. A look at the publication on ’25 years of Klax Education’ told me I was going to like them a lot – and I was going to be able to read them as included a English translation.

Then life took over and I had to postpone both fully looking at the publications and in writing the planned blog to share with others.

Which brings us up to date and the start of this blog.
First a couple of photo’s of what was in my parcel

As not the best photo’s here are the titles of the publications I received:

  • 25 years of Klax education
  • The Klax Kindergarten
  • The Marble track, Clever Can, and the Feelie- Rug
  • Activity trays – experiments and play activities
  • Glitter bottles and more

I hope even with the poor photo’s that you are interested in reading on.
Of course I will only be giving you an insight in to the content as these books are available to buy – and easily via Amazon (Please note I am not connected to either Amazon or the books and will not profit from passing on this link)

Link to Amazon page for the books

One of the things I found very interesting was the history of Klax, their reflective practice and how they have moved from directorship about everything including early years education in East Germany , to implementing their own ethos and practice now the wall between East and West Germany no longer exists.

Of course this is a very clear link to Froebel who also established his kindergartens in East Germany and who challenged the thinking about education at the time.

I note with interest that Froebel is not specifically mentioned in the publication ’25 years of Klax Education’ – although other pioneers such as Reggio and Montessori are. However I also note that it mentions that information was not readily available when the wall was up, and those living in GDR were largely unaware of what was happening elsewhere in the world.

In many ways this links to my own development of my ethos and practice as I was also not very well informed about the pioneers of education – not because of lack of information but because of my difficulties with written words.

However there are differences in our own early years experiences – mine being more positive than Antje’s. Despite this our views appear very similar – and although of course the shared experiences on the ‘Rediscovering Froebel’ are not recorded in the publications because they were printed prior to the trip, I know from discussion’s with Antje than like me she was making links between Froebel’s ethos and practice and her own.

Antje – who speech at ‘Summerfest 2015’ is recorded in the book, speaks about their own ideas and how they developed their ethos. One line from this book stands out to me
‘ Our respect for our pioneering educational mother’s and fathers should not result in us switching off our own thoughts and becoming mere copyists’ (25 years of Klax Education, pg 25)

I totally agree – and although some like to provide childcare and education based on specific principles such as Montessori or Reggio, I personally think it is better to develop your own vision and therefore practice taking everything into consideration including your own ideas.

I find it interesting that many people have developed a similar ethos to me, without having been very informed by the education pioneers or indeed each other. This indicates to me that these principles, values and ethos which are based on observations and reflection over many years are universal truths and not restricted to one idea being shared directly or indirectly – it is just people observing how children learn and following children’s lead and interests. And this is children worldwide not isolated to children from one country or culture.

Moving onto mention a few other things from the publications – ‘The Klax kindergarten’ publication contains a wealth of information much of which I totally agree with, and which though not identical to the practice I had when I was a childminder – is very similar in many ways.

All 3 ideas books are fascinating and inspiring. The ‘Glitter bottles and more’ has 33 ideas included to use recycled bottles and tubes. There are lots of photo’s and step by step instructions. I have used bottles filled with various things over many years but admit I never thought of joining two bottles together with a length of tube – Klax did! Maybe you have already discovered this extension idea yourself – but if not, why not do some research or just experiment with the children and see what you come up with (the book of course has lots more ideas, should you wish to buy a copy).

I am not going to give any more information as this is just an insight into Klax.

I am very grateful for being sent such inspiring publications and would like to thank Antje and everyone at Klax. I would really like to make more links with Klax and the work they do – and if possible I would like to visit a Klax kindergarten and to have discussions about our similarities and differences so we can learn from each other.

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