The English-German Forest Kindergarten Robin Hood is run by the Non-Profit Organization Robin Hood e.V. Its main objective is operating the Kindergarten with an emphasis on bilingual nature and environmental education and the support of the project’s philosophy in general.
The main purpose of the kindergarten is to provide a supportive and continually educational framework, in which children as well as their parents can learn to build stable and reliable relationships to each other, to nature, and to the kindergarten.
The kindergarten’s pedagogy is built on two main principals, besides the BBP (Berliner Bildungsprogramm, or Berlin Educational Program):
At this alternative kindergarten, children have the opportunity of experiencing two languages at the same time – English and German. They learn and practice both languages on a daily basis, using an immersive educational approach.
The kindergarten is an educational institution with its main emphasis on nature and environmental education. With this is mind, and to experience themselves as an integrated part of nature, the children spend the mornings playing and learning outside, in (almost) any kind of weather, in different natural habitats, and have their breakfast there. They only return to the kindergarten at lunch time.
In the afternoons, the kids have the space and opportunity to process the morning’s experiences in a playful and creative way.
The forest kindergarten offers full-time care. Therefore, a permanent space is essential. Our location offers bright and spacious rooms, located at Dietzgenstr. 66,13156 Berlin (Pankow), close to several beautiful green areas, such as Kreuzgraben and Brosepark. Since we are a forest kindergarten, the children and their teachers play outdoors during the morning, either in the parks nearby or in the forest, meadows and fields.
Opening Hours are weekdays from 8:00 to 16:30.
In the course of the year, especially in summer, there are several closing periods, generally based on school holidays. When possible, these are announced at the beginning of the year.
Our kindergarten offers space for 32 children. The “Sparrows” are a group of up to 12 children playing together from the age of one and a half.. The other group, the “Buzzards”, contains up to 23 children, from around age 3 to school age, researching and playing together.
The exact time of admission to the Sparrow Group depends on the children’s current level of development. For example, they must be able to walk confidently and eat independently. In order to meet the child’s needs and skills, we only accept children over one and a half years old.
The transition from the Sparrow Group to the Buzzard Group depends on the child’s level of development and the group situation. An essential condition is that the child is potty-trained. Other factors include the child’s mobility, emotional stability, and social behavior. The educational staff will decide in consultation with each other when this step should occur.
Parents, children and teachers meet in the morning from 8:00 at Brosepark (or on special days, at another location which will be announced beforehand). The children are handed over to the teachers personally. Around 8:45, we welcome the day together with a morning circle, singing songs in English and German and learning finger games, dancing and listening to nature. There is also an opportunity to discuss the most important issues of the day with the kids.
Then the “Sparrows” gather their things in a cart and visit the “Dwarf Family Zwack”, near the big maple tree in the park. There, we have breakfast on the grass, followed by plenty of time to sing, jump, explore or simply relax on the lawn – all this in both English and German. Around 11.00/11.30am we conclude the morning with another circle and return indoors to change diapers, have lunch, and a nap.
The „Buzzards“ get on the bus (107) and get out at one of the sites that we regularly visit … whatever takes our fancy that day! Sometimes, that’s the Botanical Gardens with their cherry trees, wild garlic and deer, sometimes the forest and fields where we can observe the falcons hovering, sometimes to Blankenfelde Church with its sand hill or Schildow with its little stream where herons come to hunt. Sometimes, the children decide, and other times the teachers.
After breakfast we build wooden shacks, hunt for trails, whittle, balance, collect herbs, look for birds’ nests, follow badger trails, stroke and feed the deer in the enclosure, build mosaics and labyrinths with pretty stones or mandalas out of leaves, flowers and feathers, collect rose petals for fragrant oils or make ointment from narrow-leaf plantain – all in English and German.
Around 1:00 pm, the buzzards return to the kindergarten, have lunch and rest.
After the midday rest and a small snack, we go outside again or might paint, play with modeling clay, cut, saw, or build things. There`s time to read books, build huts, play with friends, and cuddle, laugh, or dance, be silly, have pillow fights, or rest in one of the cozy corners… until the kindergarten closes at 4:30 pm.
Healthy eating is important to us, so we offer vegetarian whole foods made from organically grown ingredients. We offer raw food as snacks at least twice a day. For sweet urges, we provide fruits, smoothies, dried fruits, elderberry punch, and nuts. On special occasions, like birthdays, there is cake. We don`t want the children to bring sweets or snacks to the kindergarten.
We also cater to children with food allergies. Our water is specially filtered and energized drinking water with the quality of spring water.
The kindergarten’s organization has two branches. The management is handled by the board of directors. The educational leadership lies with a certified teacher on the staff. In addition, there are other teachers included in the daily care. The team is supported by several volunteers, for example ÖKIS (young people doing a voluntary year on an ecological project), experts in early music education, botany, and creative workshops, as well as trainees and housekeeping employees.
Parents are also included to help with childcare and housekeeping, in case of vacation, sickness, staff meetings or further education.
After half a year of preparation, the opening of the kindergarten took place on September 15, 2005.
The funding is based on guidelines set in the EKT Declaration. The parents’ contribution to the costs of care is determined by the district office of Berlin and depends on the parents’ income. In addition, an additional monthly educational fee is charged, which is adjusted regularly to the economic situation.
The organization is attempting to acquire additional finances and materials for equipment and daily kindergarten operations.
The relationships between all involved should be characterized by great sincerity, transparency and mutual respect. Willingness to engage like this is one of the kindergarten’s essential foundations. The adults should be aware of their function as role models and act accordingly to create a positive atmosphere which has a great impact on children and offers an important precondition for greatest possible learning. Emerging conflicts should be discussed and resolved as soon as possible. A constructive approach to problems as well as willingness to find creative solution models is required for parents and kindergarten to cooperate. In case of a disagreement, every party should be heard, as we practice with the children. The parents are expected to accept these rules and realize them adequately.
To keep the kindergarten running, it is necessary for the parents to be involved in terms of content as well as in practical work. Every family is committed to help the kindergarten with some kind of working assignment (for example, cleaning, parental supervision during team meetings, laundry, and organizational tasks).
We always welcome requests and suggestions. Decisions about the daily routine and the pedagogical approach are the responsibility of the educational staff.