How Kinder started...
As the creator and founder of Kinder I also have the pleasure of being the Director of Kinder, a job that has continued to inspire me as a pedagogue, together with my experience as a mother of two daughters (2000 and 2004).
Since 1986, when I graduated as a professor in Educational Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires and in 1988 as a Master in Political Sciences from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, I have dedicated myself to international comparative educational research. In 1999 I received my PhD in Pedagogy and Political Science from the Technical University of Berlin (TU) with a paper on the autonomy of public schools at the international level.
Since the end of 2001, when I arrived in Barcelona with my family, I started to organize a German language group for my first daughter. The first German group was opened in September 2002 in the Casc Antic of Barcelona, supported by an association of families.
Kinder was the first language school for young children from 0 to 6 years old in Barcelona and combined immersion in different languages with an open pedagogy based on dynamic child psychology. In 2002 in Barcelona there were three other projects with an alternative pedagogy for young children, whose vehicular language was exclusively Catalan. At that time in Barcelona, learning different languages at this age was not a priority for most families. It was not until the economic crisis of 2008 that learning English in early childhood became relevant.
Taking care of the emotional development of children has been one of our main concerns at Montessori Kinder Barcelona. The adaptation of the children with family accompaniment was an innovation, as well as the addition of a child and family psychologist to the team. Children with special challenges were integrated into the groups through the creation of accompaniment protocols with excellent results in all kinds of learning including social. We carried out a work of sensitization of families, with different cultural backgrounds, who were reviewing their own and very different patterns of upbringing, while educating their children. All this has been developing and in recent years we see an important trend towards conscious parenthood, with flexibility of family models and personal emotional work of adults. Also "educació lliure" projects are multiplying by the dozen in the neighborhoods of Barcelona.
Twenty years ago, pedagogy for young children was based on the learning of behavioral habits and this is how most families understood it: to stop diapers as soon as possible, to sit for hours using flashcards to learn, etc. To consider play as an effective learning resource seemed a chimera. In these twenty years we have put into practice various experiences, spaces and materials of open pedagogy integrating ideas of Françoise Dolto, Reggio Emilia, Emmi Pikler and Maria Montessori. We have trained a large number of staff through many training sessions, team meetings and coaching with specialists, which has become an important legacy and has also been disseminated to other projects in the city.
Organic child nutrition was another new idea, which we developed initially from my home kitchen and resulted in the creation of an organic catering kitchen for our Kindergarten and other schools, with a focus on healthy and sustainable nutrition. The concepts of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., which used to seem like strange food to many, became more popular over the years and gained value for most families. Nabibi's high quality and sustainable menu is low on animal protein and is dairy free, gluten free with no added sugar and is a source of health and enjoyment for children as well as a source of inspiration for families.
The rehabilitation of four old premises in Poblenou with the renovation of floors and walls, recovering building materials such as brick and stone, has been a task that has taken years, but certainly has contributed to a more sustainable way of life and to the improvement of the neighborhood.
Every day, Kinder is a complex and inclusive pedagogical experience, through which hundreds of children have learned not only to speak languages that they did not know before, but also the value of communication and bonds with others. For me and our team, it continues to be a magnificent professional and personal learning challenge.
Dr. Helena Munín Piekarek