"A year from now these weeks without class won't matter."

What is important for learning success? A primary school teacher tells

The situation of the last months was not easy for students and parents. Tempers are running high. There is uncertainty about how things will continue after the summer holidays and what effects school closures will have on children in the long term. We spoke to a teacher who teaches at a primary school in Berlin. She told us what is needed to make sure that pupils learn well and what parents can do to help those who are worried about learning gaps.

"A year from now these weeks without class won't matter."

Children like to learn in a playful way and with a lot of freedom

1. How would you have described a good learning environment earlier this year and how would you describe it now?

I would have said at the beginning of the year that a good learning environment exists where children can develop, are supported and encouraged. Where they are allowed to make mistakes without getting the feeling that they are not smart about it. A learning environment that works with intrinsic motivation and conveys content in a playful way is ideal for me, according to Friedrich Schiller: "(...) A person is only completely human where he plays". Let me give you an example from my practice: I played a different version of "city, country, river" with the children in German classes. There were categories such as nouns, adjectives, verbs and then you always had to fill in the line for a certain letter. That's how the children learned the word types. It is also important to always make it very clear that you only evaluate certain content that is asked for, but not the person as such.

Parents must be strengthened as educational companions

I would still describe a good learning environment in exactly the same way now - except that at the beginning of the year I was only thinking about a classroom. Corona has made me aware that learning environments happen everywhere, including my parents' home of course. Corona has shown me the need to make parents aware of their role as educational companions, so that they themselves can give good impulses, even if for some reason school is not taking place.

2. Many parents worry about lost school supplies. What is your opinion and what advice do you give them?

I find the term "lost" a little distracting. Of course, every school subject is also linked to certain competencies that are to be learned through it. For example the ability to extract core statements from texts. It is not important which book a child reads exactly. In other words, many competencies have been developed nevertheless, either with the planned curriculum or with other materials. Depending on how many impulses the teacher gave during the Corona Lockdown. Many parents have also absorbed a lot with good suggestions.

Pupils have learned a lot about social competence

In addition, learning is of course also to be seen in a wider context. Maybe some children have "lost" certain contents of the school material, but they have certainly gained new ones in return. For example, the competence to be considerate of other people, such as older people, and to motivate themselves to learn at home. In my home there was a notice board of pupils who offered their help with shopping to the neighbours if they fell into the risk group. What I mean by this is that the social skills that were learned in the process cannot be weighed against lost content.

Parents can get an overview

I would first advise all parents to remain calm. Because I don't think in a year's time these weeks without class will matter. Only if there were really very few impulses from the teacher and if the change to a secondary school was imminent would I advise parents to look at the curriculum for the class level. Or ask the teacher. So that they have an overview of which topics should be covered at all and to see here that a few topics can be caught up on during the holidays. Materials can be sent to you by the teacher or found on the Internet.

3. If you could wish for one thing for the coming school year, what would it be?

I would like two things: Please no second corona wave and that coaching and empowerment become part of the curriculum, both for students and teachers.

We thank you for the interview. We have collected an overview of learning materials here, feel free to drop by.


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