The kindergarten run by the ECCB’s Diaconia in Cheb, a town in the West of the Czech Republic, has been operating for one year and is about to enter its second year of existence. It was established with the support of a number of German protestant churches. We have asked the director of the kindergarten, Iva Koubová, how things are going at the facility.
The kindergarten has increased its capacity as compared to last year. How many children will be attending it this year?
We are going to have two more children, that means 42. We could accept two more, but there was not enough interest in Cheb this year. In a way, this is good for us, as we have more handicapped children this year and they prefer a smaller company of children.
What does your cooperation with the local ECCB’s congregation look like? The congregation has had a new pastor since September.
The kindergarten was established by the church and we obviously want this to show in our work with the children. However, the vast majority of our children comes from atheist families; my guess is only two or three families are religious. When we offered a Bible study group last year, only one child out of the forty signed up. That is why the new pastor has come up with a new offer: once a month, he comes over and reads a story or fairy tale to the kids, sings some songs with them, plays the guitar. The children like this very much.
What about the parents?
They accept this kind of programme. I talked to each of the parents individually about the Christian aspect of our kindergarten, as I know this is a sensitive topic for them. To summarise these interviews, I could say the parents appreciate that their children are familiarising themselves with Biblical stories, values, the Christian tradition. However, they are against any religious manifestations, such as prayer.
You mentioned that handicapped children also attend your kindergarten. How many are there and what kind of handicaps are we talking about?
We have two children with an autistic disorder and one with cerebral palsy.
How successful are you with integrating these children?
Last year, we had one assistant helping the two autistic children. We found out this was not sufficient, because our work was extremely difficult. This year we have two assistants and would like to apply for another one.
Is there anything else that makes your kindergarten different from other similar facilities in Cheb?
Our building is barrier-free. We also teach our children German free of charge, and we are the only kindergarten in Cheb that takes the kids for a week-long stay in the nature. This is appreciated not only by the children, but also by their parents, as well as the teachers. It is important for the teachers to get to be with the kids in a different environment from school. So the children are already looking forward to another trip.
The interview was led by Adam Šůra.