The Preschool/Kindergarten classes are multi-age groups of 3- to 5-year olds. Each class is staffed by a head-teacher and one or two (depending on class size) assistants, all native German speakers.
The Preschool/Kindergarten offers a curriculum based on hands-on Montessori materials with a whole child approach and taught in German. It encourages self-motivation and independence, develops self-confidence and promotes self-discovery.
Students are guided by the teacher and assistant(s) to engage individually, in small groups and as a whole class in age-appropriate activities. Students enter Preschool/Kindergarten with varying fluency levels in German depending on their age and also language(s) spoken at home. Individualized and in small groups the teacher tailors instruction in the various learning areas to student’s language and developmental needs. To facilitate diverse concurrent activities in the classroom the learning materials are arranged by content in defined areas in the classroom.
The Practical Life Area contains a variety of workshop utensils, sewing and craft supplies, dressing frames, assortments of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. These materials engage the younger children in activities that develop fine motors skills and lead to independence. For older students this area serves to build vocabulary in German concerning practical life things.
The Language Area also offers materials for all preschoolers and kindergartners. There is a reading area with books appropriate for the various age groups. Oral language learning is the primary focus through oral instruction, discussions, and reading to students. The teacher and assistant(s) while interacting with the students in German only, encourage students to apply their developing German language skills and knowledge. From learning the alphabet to sounding out words sandpaper letters are used to associate sound with shape through touch. Words and sentences are built with movable letters. Grammar is taught by associating color-coded symbols with parts of speech. Books are created containing vocabulary in many subjects (e.g., animals, family life, geography) and to develop writing skills.
In the Sensorial Area with rods, cylinder, mosaics etc. students learn to identify and reproduce shapes and their relations, size, dimensions and patterns.There are simple tasks for the younger children and more complex materials for the older. Space dimensions help build a foundation for geometry.
In the Mathematics Area a multitude of materials such as numerical rods with number cards, bead boxes, addition and subtraction strip boards, multiplication and division boards offer challenges for all preschoolers and kindergartners. Even younger students advance fast from counting beads to adding beads to adding sets of beads, i.e. to multiplication. Kindergartners will master the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
The Geography Area contains maps, wooden puzzles, artifacts and pictures from various countries.
The Science Area offers botany and zoology materials, as well as, sets for experimentation.
In the Arts Area drawing and painting materials attract students of all ages. Musical instruments, such as drums and xylophone are used to develop sound discrimination, motor skills and feeling for rhythm.
In Whole Class Activities, usually happening with students sitting in a circle, students sing, read aloud, show and tell. These activities also provide opportunities for much language development. Students learn how to speak in large groups by telling stories and taking part in group discussions. The teacher also uses whole group settings to introduce integrative themes.
Integrative Themes: Although learning materials are arranged by content area, students learn to integrate knowledge and skills acquired in the various areas by pursuing overarching themes of inquiry. E.g., the teacher might introduce the themes “Water,” its importance in life, uses, availability, etc. All content areas contribute: Practical Life, Science, Geography, Music … and all students take part in this trans-disciplinary learning experience. Older students might produce a report by collecting information, looking up rivers and oceans, finding out how a pump works…; younger students might focus more on their immediate world of water use, cleaning, tasting etc. Another themes is “The Family:” Students bring photos for show-and-tell, make family trees, produce floor plans for homes, collect information on how families live in different geographic areas, food, customs, celebrations… Broad units of inquiry develop student’s facility for knowledge integration while looking at issues from various perspectives. The teacher guides the student in the process of inquiry and assures that students engage each day in a well balanced set of activities.
Upon entering first grade students will have acquired oral fluency in German as well as some basic reading, writing and math skills, important knowledge in basic subject areas, and love for learning. The first grade curriculum will strengthen and extend these foundations.
The School Day
School begins at 9:00 am. Students should arrive between 8:50 and 9:00.
The School also provides before- and after-school supervision and enrichment classes.
Before-School Care is available from 7:30 – 9:00 am.
After-School Care is offered from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.
A Typical Day’s Activities
The school day is divided into activity segments that are defined by group size (whole class, small group of 2 to 4 children, and individual) and learning content (Practical Life, Language Development, Reading and Writing, Mathematics, Geography, Biology, General Life Sciences, History, Music, Visual Arts, Performance Arts, Sports). And there are time segments allocated to Snack, Lunch, Quiet Time after Lunch, Student Arrival and Dismissal.
Students are guided by the teacher and her assistant(s) to engage in activities in the various content areas individually and/or with others. E. g., in Practical Life, a 3-year old might work alone or with a classmate on learning how to tie shoe laces or to button or to open and close zippers. – In Mathematics, a child alone or with a classmate might work on addition and subtraction with the Bead Set. – In Language, a child might learn how to write by tracing sandpaper letters. – Music and games will be learned in whole class activities (e.g. learning songs and rhythm), as well as, individually (e.g. playing drums, xylophone). The teacher guides the student in suggesting various activities.
The typical school day (full time from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, part-time from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm has activities segments that are 20 to 30 minutes long. A generic schedule is presented below.
08:50 – 9:00 Student Arrival
09:00 – 9:20 I. Whole Class Activity
09:20 – 9:50 1. Sub-Group Activities
09:50 – 10:10 2. Sub-Group Activities
10:10 – 10:25 Snack
10:25 – 10:45 II. Whole Class Activity
10:45 – 11:05 3. Sub-Group Activities
11:05 – 11:25 4. Sub-Group Activities
11:25 – 11:45 5. Sub-Group Activities
11:45 – 12:25 III. Whole Class Activity
12:25 – 12:50 Lunch
12:50 – 13:00 Dismissal of part-time students
13:00 – 14:00 Quiet Time for 3- & 4-year olds
Learning Activities for Kindergartners
14:00 – 14:20 6. Sub-Group Activities
14:20 – 14:30 Snack
14:30 – 15:00 IV. Whole Class Activity
15:00 – 15:10 Student Dismissal
Most of the activities happen in the classroom (Klassenzimmer). But students also engage daily in sport activities in the Gym (Turnhalle) and on the outdoor playground (Spielplatz).
Elementary School Curriculum
At German School Chicago we provide instruction through an outstanding dual-language program beginning in preschool, continuing in Kindergarten and expanding to First through Third Grade. The instruction is given in the German language from the beginning of preschool. New enrollees in these grades who are not fluent in German will receive extra help to catch up with the required proficiency in German.
A discipline-based curriculum, taught in German except for English Language Arts, will integrate the standard subject matter areas:
German Language Arts
English Language Arts
Students work on themes with global perspectives. Through structured inquiry students build knowledge, develop meaning and refine understanding. Group projects also focus on communication skills and team work.
Students will learn in a supportive, intimate and individualized environment that nurtures curiosity and creativity and fosters global awareness.