Testing independence and playing together: Columnist Sylvia Prahl offers tips on how families can pass Corona time.
Social distancing is no problem in the Britzer Garten Photo: Thomas Wolter/ Pixabay
The shutdown brings many new insights. About oneself and especially about one’s own child. Sure, even before Corona, not every hour spent together was quality time. But with homeschooling, daily togetherness has reached a new dimension. After all, what parent knows what goes on in the classroom in the morning? Very rarely does the question "So, how was school today?" get more than a sonorous "Good." "What did you do in German?" "Don’t know." Okay, the kid isn’t up for it right now, is tired, so we’ll ask again later.
And now homeschooling. Now we at least know what goes on in the mornings in class. Before the Easter vacations, we were often told: "But Ms. XY can explain it much better than you. In the meantime, we’ve learned a lot ourselves, developed strategies for getting the material across to the child, and when we’ve succeeded, we can enjoy the proud feeling for a moment.
We got a good handle on the initial problems of structuring the day with a running list. Not only are there chores on it, but also points of order such as "daddling" and "gawking". No set times. What is done is checked off in the smiley field. The free allocation of time within the prescribed framework has led to an astonishingly effective organization.
"Expertise in the backyard
Even if many parents fear that the children will miss out on material and that gaps in their knowledge will be hard to close, it is important to consider what other things the children will learn during this time. In addition to things like self-organization, independent work and increasing frustration tolerance, these can be quite pragmatic things that also fit nicely under the label "science": Working in the backyard (if there are enough materials lying around), sewing protective masks (you can easily buy fabric at the market on Maybachufer).
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Baking in particular has made quite a difference here in terms of proud independence. Providing the products (use flour sparingly!) and the baking equipment, as well as telling them that renovating the kitchen was currently out of the question, was enough. Recipes for muffins, cookies and crumble are available on the net, door closed, and a few hours later everyone gets to enjoy the delicacies.
Also, keeping a diary regularly has led to self-reflection that goes beyond just noting what you do. And there was always too little time to think up and draw a comic strip.
What is hard to compensate for, however, especially because the school is no longer a meeting place, is the social isolation. This became very clear when we happened to meet friends on a walk. The child hadn’t glowed like that for weeks.
And that’s despite the fact that – completely crazy – the kids have already internalized the distance rules to such an extent that they have dispensed with the usual hugs. Even if a face-to-face meeting can’t be topped, the fact that schoolwork can be done with classmates via Skype, and communication with grandmas and grandpas and friends can take place via videophone, helps quite a bit.
And playing games. The classic game Mau Mau is a great way to playfully reduce aggression when several sevens are pulled out of the hat with relish and someone suddenly finds himself with twice the amount of cards. For training mental agility with an enormous fun factor, "Dobble" is the game of choice. There are 8 symbols printed on each of 55 round cards. Between two cards there is exactly one symbol that appears twice on both cards. The task is to find it and say it out loud.
Unexpected hurdle: Word-finding difficulties under time pressure. There are 5 game variants. In the variant "The Tower" all cards are distributed among the players and they place the cards on a card in the middle. Whoever has used up all the cards first is the winner. It is always interesting to see who can win by calling out the double symbol at the same time. Dobble is available in different versions and costs about 10 €.
Ubongo" is also about speed. Here, all players receive a set of colorful, differently shaped tiles that have to be arranged on a playing field in a given shape. Which of the tiles are to be used is decided by the dice before the game begins. People with a graphically trained eye have a clear advantage here.
The player who has placed the tiles correctly calls out "Ubongo" and may take a blue diamond; the second player gets another brown diamond. All those who finish before the hourglass expires also get a diamond from the bag. Whoever has the highest score at the end, and this is independent of the amount of diamonds, is the winner.
If you want to go one better, you can play "Ubongo 3D", where, as the name suggests, you have to fit three-dimensional tiles into each other. Ubongo is available in other versions and costs about 7 € in the slimmed-down travel version and about 30 € in the large version.
Finally read for yourself
And since it’s not always possible to read aloud, people are now increasingly reading for themselves. Readers with an affinity for Harry Potter read more than they realize in the interactive game "Hogwarts Mystery" (free in the App Store) and have fun doing so. And for children who are just about to dive into the wonderful world of letters, the Berlin author Claudia Honecker has written two primers, which Sabine Pflitsch has illustrated true to life. "Wir sind ganz durcheinander" (We’re all mixed up) is their name, in one there’s "chaos in the zoo" in the other "chaos in the kitchen".
The idea is as simple as it is charming: letters of the kitchen terms or names of the zoo animals are mixed up. The giraffe is first the Igreffa, then the Fragife or the Efigraf. Fittingly, there is a picture of a fragmented giraffe. On the following page, the giraffe is whole and the individual letters whiz across the page. On a dotted line they can be arranged to fit.
At the end of the book, all the terms are shown again, along with a picture for checking. Here, not only terms are practiced, but joy in playing with words in particular and language in general is triggered, which can be continued in any form outside the book at the dinner table, available from Ladislaus Bean Verlag for about 12 €.
Social Distancing has always been easy to implement in the Britzer Garten. Until there are presence events again, the Freilandlabor Britz puts information about current topics as "Freilandlabor notes" in the net. So before you go to the Britzer Garten, you can find out about the breeding of gray geese at home and then explore the situation in the Britzer Garten on your own. There are also video contributions about carp or Canada goose and family tips, including ideas on how to bring the garden onto the balcony.