A child discovers its world

A child discovers its world

Matthias einwag moritz enjoys life. The three-year-old laughs a lot while playing with the other children. He says and hammers, and he roasts sausages. No, not real sausages, but small branches that he prepares in a play corner of the forest kindergarten that has been set up as a kitchen.

Moritz has trisomy21. This hereditary disease is also known as down syndrome. This is a genetic predisposition that cannot be changed. Moritz’s parents, andrea and sebastian huth, have consciously chosen the inclusive path. They wanted that their son auachst in the middle of the society and finds there his place.

Growing in nature

The forest kindergarten is just the right thing, says sebastian huth, a forest ranger who looks after the forests of the ducal forestry administration of banz. Moritz had first been in the nursery of the BRK kindergarten in unnersdorf. "We wanted him to go to the forest kindergarten afterwards", he continues. Sebastian huth knows what he’s talking about, because he helped set up the forest kindergarten in the banzer forest in 2012, so to speak. The ducal forestry administration supports this institution materially and ideally to the best of its ability.

High staffing levels

It is not self-evident that moritz can go to the forest kindergarten. The BRK kindergarten does not have its own inclusion group. There is one for example in the schonbrunner kindergarten. Up to three children with disabilities could still be accommodated, says kindergarten director andrea drexel. In the forest kindergarten, she continues, five pedagogical staff are employed – one of them, sabine endres, is mainly there for moritz.

Preparation for life

In the forest kindergarten, the girls and boys learn through play everything that is also taught in the other groups in unnersdorf: language education is a topic, social skills in dealing with others are emphasized, and the preschool children go to "forest school" here. Especially pleasing: "all the children play with moritz", says andrea drexel. The aspect that the other 21 girls and boys in the group regard the inclusion child moritz as completely normal is very important to andrea drexel and her team. On this day, five-year-old anton takes the principle of togetherness to heart in an exemplary manner, as he obligingly looks after moritz and helps the three-year-old wherever he can.

Sebastian huth, a forest ranger who offers forest tours for children, adds: "the children learn a lot about plants and animals here. They learn about the different ways birds chirp and can name tree species – which will also help them later in life." Many of the children who come to his forest tours, he says, have hardly any knowledge of fauna and flora: "that’s about zero."

Children are unprejudiced

And how is moritz doing in the forest group?? "The children are completely unprejudiced, they approach him without bias", says group leader petra krannich. Sebastian huth explains: "his spontaneous speech develops much later than in other children", because the trisomy shows itself among other things in a muscle weakness, from which also the tongue is affected. Moritz is developing very well in the forest group, says his father.

"He is involved with us without us doing anything specifically different with him", petra krannich adds. Moritz likes to sing and hoard songs, continue them – just like any other child. "Moritz should do everything that all other children do", she paraphrases the educational approach. "The child gives us back an incredible amount", praises moritz’s motivation. The boy’s companion, sabine endres, deliberately takes little from the three-year-old. She challenges him, even though moritz has to make a special effort when walking on the uneven forest floor because of his weak muscles. The blame for this lies with these "stumbling dwarfs", who, the banzer forest spirits responsible for tuckish roots and twigs lying around.

Talking about twigs and branches: the bavarian red cross, which runs the unnersdorf kindergarten with its forest group, pays a lot of money for this form of nature-based learning: a specialist company is regularly commissioned to remove the deadwood from the trees using a hoist, so that the children can play safely in the forest.

Relation to nature and the environment

"We were the first forest group in the county. We want to create with it the direct relationship with nature and the environment, as well as sustainability", andrea drexel describes the approach. "Here in the forest kindergarten, petra krannich adds "we get by with little water and no electricity, we strip everything down to the bare essentials."

The forest group is just right for moritz. Sebastian huth is enthusiastic about this close-to-nature learning experience. "From a parent’s point of view: he sucks like a sponge." The three-year-old is eager to learn, and here he can test his strength and the coordination of his hands and feet: "the uneven ground is constant therapy for him."