A brief history…
In the spring of 2003, a group of parents met to discuss forming a bilingual kita (a.k.a. kindergarten) for our children in eastern Berlin. We had a few points in common: one parent spoke English and the other German, and we wanted our children to develop these languages and the cultures bound to them outside of the family circle. Setting up a kita — a place where our kids would spend many of their daytime hours during their formative years — seemed like the best way to achieve that.
Many months and meetings later, we had grown in number and formalised our ideas. The Articles of Constitution in our society, Zebra International Kindergarten e.V., are documented below. They lay out most of our ground rules and our Concept explains our educational goals. By becoming members of this society we have all agreed to the ideas expressed in these documents and committed ourselves to trying to achieve them.
If our story inspires you at all and you want your child to be part of our project, please read the details below and then take a look at how you and your children can join us.
1. A two-thirds majority of all members is required for any statutes to be changed.
2. Membership of the society involves accepting its statutes and this teaching concept.
3. Members are expected to participate regularly in society meetings (the presence of one representative from each family is sufficient). Three consecutive absences could lead to exclusion from the society.
4. The society’s goal is to build a bilingual English-German Kita with the greatest possible number of bilingual or anglophone children. The Kita must remain of a manageable size and not exceed two groups with a total of 30 children.
5. There is a waiting list for interested parents. The children will be chosen according to clear criteria such as age and sex, mother-tongue, parent’s engagement, and the child’s integration into the group. Bilingual and anglophone children will be given priority when possible.
Signing up to the waiting list will not automatically entitle the child to a place. Children should be aged at least 18 months, be able to integrate in a group and be of stable character.
A younger child could be accepted if all other criteria are met and parents and staff vote unanimously in favour.
After entering the Kita, a trial period of two months will begin during which the child could be rejected if he or she is clearly unhappy and disrupts the harmony of the group.
The decision to accept or exclude any child during the trial period can be taken with a simple majority vote.
Children will technically only be taken if they stay at the Kita between seven and nine hours daily. If a family has fewer hours, the society will decide whether it has the financial means to accept the child. In this case, parents could be asked to pay more.
6. A parental initiative Kita cannot live off Senate subsidies alone. Parents will have to pay a supplementary sum not greater than 50 euros each month which could vary depending on costs and revenue.
7. Each parent must show initiative and could become involved in any one of the following activities, among others:
a) Preparing excursions
d) Representing staff to parents
e) Membership of the managing committee
f) Accounting and financial duties
h) Renovation and maintenance work
The tasks should be divided equitably among all. It is also important that parents alternately conduct activities with the children. This could be something that requires their own special skills, or activities the staff are not able or know how to do.
8. The children will be taught in English and German. Ideally anglophone teachers’ hours will exceed 50 percent of the teaching time. German teachers must speak English well because that will be the staff’s common working language.
Staff will take part in decisions on hiring new colleagues or searching for a new child. They must be given an hour each week to discuss and consult on the following week’s programme. The teachers must approve the pedagogical concept.
a) Food in the Kita will be organic
b) Sweets will only be allowed for parties
10. Smoking is not permitted in the Kita. It is also banned during meetings. The staff may smoke during their break out of view of the children and outside the premises.
11. Toys resembling weapons may not be brought into the Kita (guns, knifes, swords, etc.) This ban does not concern any such objects made by the children at the Kita.
12. Anything which could spark a fire, including candles, should be avoided.