Caregivers at our centre work in two key ways in guiding the children throughout the day. In free play times, the teachers take the children’s lead and work to enrich and enhance their play. In group activity times, caregivers are the loving authority that leads the children with enthusiasm and interest as they learn to function in a structured and social group.
The caregivers use their observational skills to fine-tune the movement between these two modes on each given day (see the section on Rhythms and Routines for more). A repeating song marks each transition; its repetition raises the children's awareness of the time passing but no child is ever directly rushed to complete their play activity. Instead, children interact with each other to bring the activities to a close and move as a group. This builds their social relationships and skills while allowing the adults to have the kinds of interaction that support and enhance the children's creative play.
This is in keeping with the nature of the caregiver interactions with children during free play times: staff work very imaginatively, at the child's level, whenever encouraging play or other activities. Open-ended questions are frequently used to allow the child to share their inner process. Caregivers carefully consider when and how to suggest a change to a child, so that his or her play or art may become more enriched, creative, interactive, and/or social. Caregivers aim not to intervene harshly at any time, and they do so only when children's interactions are verging on emotionally or physically damaging (see Conflict Resolution).
In their regular interactions with children, the teachers speak in German while allowing the children to choose their language of response. Through this friendly tone of encouragement and sympathy, the teacher builds a trusting relationship with each child. The frequent interactions during play times allow the teacher to know what interests children are pursuing. Along with the careful observation of children's interactions throughout the day, caregivers develop their understanding of the character, interests, experiences, and skill levels of each child.